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Mitsubishi filled the top five places in the opening round of the 2007 Asia Pacific Rally Championship, held on the tropical island paradise of New Caledonia last weekend.

Finland 's Jussi Valimaki won the event, just ahead of his MRF Mitsubishi team-mate, Katsu Taguchi ( Japan ), with local New Caledonian driver, Patrick Yanai, finishing third.

The rally started with two runs of the Super Special in Noumea, the island nation's capital, on Friday night, before crews headed north on Saturday, for the rally proper.

Leg one consisted of three stages run over fast, dry roads, and at the end of the day, Taguchi, with Australian Mark Stacey co-driving, was in first place, ahead of Valimaki by just 26 seconds.

Sunday's stages featured the trecherous Katrikoin stage, 28 kilometres of twisty mountain roads.  Although the day was fine and hot, recent rain had left some of the roads quite muddy, and tyre choice was to be the deciding factor in who would take the winner's spoils.  Valimaki chose wet weather tyres and he was rewarded with an overall win, beating home team-mate Taguchi by 19 seconds.

The seven round Asia Pacific Rally Championship now moves to Whangarei, New Zealand on May 11-13.

Results, Rallye De Nouvelle Caledonie

1. J. Valimaki/J. Kalliolepo, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

2. K. Taguchi/M. Stacey, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9

3. P. Yanai/D. Yanai, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8

4.V.R. Naren Kumar/D. Ramkumar, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9

5. R. Christian/Y. Lethezer, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.

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