WRC

Rally Argentina: Production Team PPM Singh preview

Singh hopes to make a splash in Argentina TEAM PROTON PERT MALAYSIA Singh hopes to make a splash in Argentina It's all go for Team Proton PERT Malaysia - just hours after winning Round 3 of the 2004 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC),...

Singh hopes to make a splash in Argentina

TEAM PROTON PERT MALAYSIA Singh hopes to make a splash in Argentina It's all go for Team Proton PERT Malaysia - just hours after winning Round 3 of the 2004 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), the Rally of Rotorua in New Zealand (8-10 July) - the team packed up and boarded a 13 hour flight to South America ready to contest Round 4 of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship (PWRC) - the Rally of Argentina which takes place this weekend (16- 18 July).

Karam will land in Argentina not only boosted by his recent success in New Zealand but also by the arrival of his new Gp N Proton PERT, which was built from scratch in the UK by Derby-based Mellors Elliot Motorsport (MEM) and transported to South America to make its exclusive debut. Along with a whole host of refinements, the new car boasts a more advanced roll cage design offering increased body-shell stiffness. This not only improves the safety of the drivers but also allows finer tuning of suspension settings and improved handling. The team has also worked hard on the engine mapping system to enhance engine response and performance. Karam and co-driver Allen Oh have two Rally of Argentina starts under their belt and two third positions in 2002 and 2003 and they'll be looking to emulate this performance as they try to step up their 2004 PWRC bid and put their new Gp N Malaysian Airlines/GO K.L/Malaysian Tourism sponsored Proton PERT through its paces. The Rally of Argentina is an event of gladiatorial proportions set amidst the picture postcard backdrop of the Valleys of the Sierras in the province of Cordoba.

Offering a variety of different surfaces and elements to contend with, stages climb through dramatic fog strewn mountain ranges, open onto smooth fast flowing roads, twist through tight technical sections and splash through numerous river crossings creating huge walls of water. The surface of the stages are blanketed in smooth powdery gravel which gets quickly swept away as each car passes revealing deep ruts and menacing suspension braking rocks ready to shatter a driver's rally in seconds. Adding to the excitement the rally is held two months later than normal this year, in the heart of the Argentine winter which means that temperatures are likely to plummet in the evenings and low hanging fog may create some visibility problems.

The weather however will do little to dampen the spirits of the Latin American fans whose unsurpassable enthusiasm for the sport brings them out in their thousands, creating a party atmosphere as they barbeque up a feast by the roadside to watch their heroes.

Karam said: "We've just had a really good event in Rotorua for the Asia Pacific Rally Championship so I'm hoping we can arrive in Argentina and keep the momentum going. I'm also really looking forward to driving my new car and I hope that the improvement it offers will help us to be on the pace in Argentina. It's not an easy rally and it can be very punishing on the car especially on the re-run of stages where the roads become very rutted and rocks start to surface but I'm confident that we've got a strong enough package to cope with the conditions.

"One thing that may cause problems this year is fog, it usually causes some visibility problems on the rally but now that the rally has moved further into the winter months it might become quite restricting on the stages that are run high up in the mountains. We've had a top three position on this event over the past two years so we'll be pushing hard to try and do the same again this year."

Rally info The 2004 Rally of Argentina runs from the 16-18 July and covers 382.63kms in a total distance of 1347.27kms over three competitive legs and 26 special stages. The rally is based in the tourist resort of Villa Carlos Paz which is situated 30km west of the city of Cordoba. Villa Carlos Paz will also accommodate the single service park for the entire event. After a break in 2003, this year the rally takes its traditional route through the three valleys in the sierras of Cordoba: Punilla, Calamuchita and Traslasierra.

The rally starts on Thursday night (15 July) at 1910 with two runs of the 3.02km Pro-Racing super special stage on the outskirts of Villa Carlos Paz. Leg 1 continues on Friday morning (16 July) at 07.07 and consists of five special stages run in the Punilla Valley to the north of Carlos Paz (a group of four repeated). Leg 1 then ends with another two runs around the Pro-Racing super special track.

Leg 2 (Saturday 17 June) sees teams leave Carlos Paz at 06.17 for another seven stages (one of which is repeated) which run through the Calamuchita Valley to the south and also the Punilla Valley. The day ends with a final two runs of the Pro-Racing super special. Day two is the longest of the event.

The third and final leg starts at 07.57 on Sunday 18 July. It contains five stages run high in the Traslasierra Mountains and includes two of the most famous stages in the World Rally Championship: El Condor and Giulio Cesare. The rally finishes at the Cordoba soccer stadium at 16.38hrs.

-tppm-

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Series WRC
Drivers Allen Oh