APRC: Singapore Tarmac Rally Report

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Possum Bourne Wins in Singapore by Wayne Munro wayne@power-pictures.com Asia-Pacific rally star Possum Bourne has competed in international motorsport events worldwide - but never anything quite like the contest he won in Singapore today: A...

Possum Bourne Wins in Singapore by Wayne Munro wayne@power-pictures.com

Asia-Pacific rally star Possum Bourne has competed in international motorsport events worldwide - but never anything quite like the contest he won in Singapore today: A car rally staged entirely in just three city carparks.

The double Asia-Pacific Rally Champion brought his "old car" - an ex-works, Group A Subaru Impreza WRX - to Singapore take on a big field of Australian, Malaysian and local drivers?most of them specialists in the art of carpark rallying - the premier form of motorsport there is in the tiny island nation.

It was the first time an international rally star - and an international-class Group A rally car - has competed in one of the unique Singaporean events. And it had a dramatic impact.

The power and acceleration of Bourne's Impreza and the talented New Zealander's experience put him in a class of his own when the Caltex Havoline Rally began on Saturday night in carparks surrounding Singapore's National Stadium.

The planned 16 stages of the all-tarmac rally - covering just 30kms of competitive driving - took competitors on courses marked out by temporary barriers, tape?.and unforgiving concrete kerbs.

A big crowd - organisers estimated that 30,000 watched the Saturday night action - saw even reigning carpark rally champion, Jeff Beaumont, who commutes from Australia to compete in a purpose-built Mitsubishi Lancer, unable to match the Kiwi's pace.

It was the same for top local carpark rally stars Ian Lee, Bill Ng, Ben Lim and Tommy Lee.

And when torrential rain combined with oil on the course to force an early end to the rally's second leg at 1.30am Sunday, Bourne led Beaumont by 10 seconds.

In a form of motorsport where rallies have been won and lost by a mere three-hundredths of a second, it was a huge lead?

And today, as Bourne resumed in formidable form - increasing his lead by 10 seconds in just one test completed in 2m 18s - it was going to take a mistake by the Kiwi star for him to lose the rally.

And he made one - momentarily beginning to turn into the wrong lane in one carpark and damaging a wheel and the Subaru's steering on a kerb.

But he still won that stage by 1 second - and was able to go on to take a clean-sweep of the rally's 11 stages to win with a total time of 15 minutes 24.31 seconds?an unprecedented 46 seconds ahead of runner-up Beaumont.

Ben Lim in another Subaru was third - 38 seconds behind the Australian and just 8 seconds ahead of countryman Tommy Lee in his Mitsubishi.

1 Possum Bourne (NZ)/Ivan Chua (Sgpr) Subaru Impreza WRX #2 924.31secs

2 Jeff Beaumont (AUS)/Rodger Anders (AUS) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5 #1 970.57s

3 Ben Lim (S)/Leon Yoong (S)    
        Subaru Impreza WRX #12            1008.02s

4 Tommy Lee (S)/Desmond Yew (S) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3 #7 1016.54s

5   Koh Aik Leong (S)/Ong Tong Yang (S) 
        Subaru Impreza WRX                1018.07
6   Brian Whillock (S)/Rushdi Arshad (S)     
        Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5           1023.12
7    Melvin Kow (S)/Goh Hwee Dick (S)    
        Subaru Impreza WRX                1027.70
8    Ringo Chong (S)/Andrew Goh (S)     
        Subaru Impreza WRX                1034.30
9    Lee Chih Fei (S)/Kwok Wing Kit (S)    
        Subaru Impreza WRX                1037.55
10    Avery Soh (S)/Amos Mok (S)
        Honda Integra R                   1059.81

leading retirements

Ian Lee (S) Subaru Impreza WRX #5 broken gearbox

Bill Ng (S) Subaru Impreza WRX #6 broken gearbox

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Series RALLY