WRC

Rally New Zealand: Team Proton PERT preview

Award winning Malaysian duo head to New Zealand Karamjit Singh and Allen Oh - who were recently presented with the Automobile Association of Malaysia (AAM) Motorsports 'Men of the Year' award at a lavish ceremony in Kuala Lumpur - are hoping...

Award winning Malaysian duo head to New Zealand

Karamjit Singh and Allen Oh - who were recently presented with the Automobile Association of Malaysia (AAM) Motorsports 'Men of the Year' award at a lavish ceremony in Kuala Lumpur - are hoping to rev up their 2004 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship bid by setting their sights on a podium finish on the Propecia Rally New Zealand (April 15-18).

Recognised for their efforts in the 2003 PCWRC, the Team Proton PERT Malaysia duo now head to New Zealand to focus on their current season. The 2004 Propecia Rally New Zealand is the third round of the PWRC and poses more familiar territory for Karam and Allen who have contested the event five times before (in 1995, '97, 2000, '02, 03). Upon arrival in New Zealand, the team will put their newly built Go K.L./Malaysia Tourism and Petronas sponsored Gp N Proton PERT through its paces by running a full two day private test before the rally starts, to try out new transmission settings and dampers.

Rally New Zealand lays claim to some of the best stages in the World Championship and it's not difficult to see why. Fast flowing smooth gravel roads undulate through rolling green countryside, dense forests and dramatic coastlines creating the ultimate drivers playground. Although demanding full throttle commitment the smoothness of the stages places few mechanical demands on the car narrowing the competition to pure driver skill and ability which is believed by many to be exactly how it should be!

Karam comments: "We're hoping for a top three finish in New Zealand. Out of all of the Production Car World Championship rounds it's the one that I'm most familiar with having competed there five times before. With the entire Production car field taking part, it's going to be a really tough event but we're determined to push as hard as possible for a place in the top three.

"We're going to put the car through a proper two day test before the rally which we haven't been able to do so far this year owing to time constraints, so this time we'll have a chance to set the car up exactly how we want it. I'm also looking forward to trying out a few new settings in the hope of finding a good set-up for the event."

Rally route

The 2004 Propecia Rally New Zealand runs from April 15-18, with a stage distance of 395.50kms in a total distance of 1413.56kms, held over three competitive legs and 23 special stages.

This year's Rally New Zealand will be the first event in the World Championship calendar to adopt the new Mille Pistes system, where drivers will complete a single reconnaissance pass through each stage on the Wednesday and Thursday before the event then a final pass on the morning of each leg of the rally before their official timed runs.

The action starts on Thursday evening (15 April) with two super special stages at the Manukau Stadium on the edge of Auckland, where two cars will race head-to-head around a purpose built track.

Legs 1 and 2 of the event head north of Auckland into the Kaipara district utilising the Paparoa service park. Leg 1 continues on Friday (16 April) and sees drivers contest a group of three stages, Wairere, Cassidy and Bull. The Wairere stage is repeated in the afternoon and then Cassidy and Bull are combined into one long 48.2km stage called 'Possum' in honour of the late Possum Bourne. The day concludes with two more runs through the Manukau super special.

Leg 2 on Saturday (17 April) is the longest of the rally and consists of a group of four stages run twice. Drivers tackle 208.26kms of competition before returning to Auckland at 21.00hrs.

The final leg heads 150kms south of Auckland to the Waitkato region, for two loops of three stages near the Raglan service park. The tough finale includes a double run over one of the most spectacular stages in the World Rally Championship, the Whaanga Coast stage, which clings to the dramatic coastline, and at just under 30kms is one of the key stages of the event. A ceremonial finish will take place in downtown Auckland at 17.00hrs local time.

-tppm-

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Karamjit Singh , Allen Oh