WRC

Swedish Rally: Production driver Karamjit Singh preview

Malaysian Government backs Singh in the PCWRC Enjoying the ultimate in patriotic appraisal Karamjit Singh and Allen Oh will be backed by the Malaysian Government and Proton this year as they contest the FIA Production Car World Rally ...

Malaysian Government backs Singh in the PCWRC

Enjoying the ultimate in patriotic appraisal Karamjit Singh and Allen Oh will be backed by the Malaysian Government and Proton this year as they contest the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship (PCWRC) for the third year running. The 2002 PCWRC Champions will also be sporting a new Gp N Proton PERT which they will run for the first time on the opening round of the Championship in Sweden next week (February 6-8).

Built in the UK by Derbyshire motorsports preparation experts Mellors Elliot Motorsport (MEM), the new car will once again be run on events by a team of both MEM and Malaysian mechanics. Team Proton PERT Malaysia will also be sponsored by Go K.L/Malaysia Tourism and Petronas, and has selected Sweden, Mexico, New Zealand, Argentina, Germany and Australia as its six nominated rounds.

In 2004 the FIA Production Car Championship opens with one of the most popular rallies in the World Rally calendar, the Uddeholm Swedish Rally. Run on narrow snow and ice covered logging roads through Swedish forest, it's the only snow rally in the World Championship and temperatures have been known to plummet to a mind numbing -30 degrees Celsius. In spite of this the Swedish Rally is also one of the fastest rallies in the World Championship due to the use of ice studded tyres which provide the cars which grip equal to normal road going conditions!

The rally is based in Karlstad in central Sweden, 250km west of the capital of Stockholm and provides drivers with some of the best stages seen anywhere in the world. Requiring a totally different technique of driving, when the temperature drops and there's ample snow, spectators will see drivers leaning their cars into the high snow banks that line the outside of bends in an effort to keep the car on the right line. In milder temperatures, however, there are fewer snow banks and the road surface turns to solid ice and the car's razor sharp spiked tyres churn up the gravel below.

Due to the art of learning to drive in such conditions, the Swedish Rally definitely favours the local drivers. This is evident from the fact that no one from outside the Nordic countries has ever won the rally in its 53 year history, suggesting that detailed knowledge of the roads boasts a huge advantage.

Last year was the first time Karam and Allen had ever competed on snow but amazingly they managed to secure an impressive third PCWRC position on their Swedish Rally debut. Now with prior experience of a true winter rally they'll be looking to build on their experience in the Swedish Ice lands.

Karam comments: "Having seen the entry list for the Production Car Championship I think the competition is going to be a lot tougher this year which will make life difficult for us. We're running a completely new car but I haven't had chance to drive it yet so I'll know more next week when we do some testing.

"I'm really looking forward to going back to Sweden, I enjoyed my debut rally there last year and it's a great experience to drive so fast on snow. The only thing that I'm not looking forward to is the cold weather, coming from Malaysia where we enjoy temperatures of +27 degrees Celsius to a country where temperatures can drop to -30 degrees Celsius and below is quite a shock to the system!"

Rally route

The 2004 Uddeholm Swedish Rally runs from the 6-8 February and covers 394.80kms in a total distance of 1981.68km over three competitive legs and 19 special stages.

All legs are based around a single service park at Hagfors, in central Sweden and the event begins with a ceremonial start on Thursday evening (5 February) in Karlstad. Leg 1, Friday (6 February), sees an early start as the rally continues at 06.30 with five stages and 145.80km of competition and includes a double run of the highest and longest stage of the event, the daunting 52.57km Granberget stage. The day concludes with a sprint around the public floodlit stage at the sports stadium and race track in Hagfors, finishing at 19.29.

Leg 2, the longest day of the rally, starts at 05.30 on Saturday (7 February) with another eight stages comprising 152.40km and again concludes with another sprint around the Hagfors sports stadium and race track, finishing at 19.36.

The final and shortest day, Leg 3, begins at 05.30 on Sunday (8 February) and contains a final six stages taking in 96.60km and concludes with a finish ceremony in Karlstad at 16.38.

-tpm-

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Karamjit Singh , Allen Oh