Tidemand, Axelsson lead MRF sweep
Obihiro (Japan): The Swedish pair of Pontus Tidemand and his co-driver Emil Axelsson expectedly clinched the title to lead a clean sweep by Team MRF in the Rally Hokkaido, the fifth and penultimate round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, here.
While Tidemand and Axelsson, with 186 points, sealed the APRC and the Pacific Cup driver’s and co-driver’s titles with four wins in five rounds, MRF clinched the team championship with their car partners Skoda Fabia taking home the Manufacturer’s crown.
Tidemand, driving the Race Torque-prepared Skoda S2000, destroyed the APRC field to win by 12 minutes over New Zealand’s Michael Young (Malcolm Read) of Cusco Racing while Japanese pair of Hitoshi Takayama and Hideki Takeyabu of Immens Motorsport, finished third, some 15 minutes behind the winners.
In his moment of glory, 24-year old Tidemand, making his APRC debut, had a word of commiseration for his Indian team-mate Gaurav Gill who retired from the eventdue to mechanical problems.
“It would have been great had Gill been around to fight with it. It was unfortunate that he had to retire, but that is motorsport. However, I am extremely happy to win the championship on debut and I would like to thank the team members, MRF Tyres and others who have been part of my success.
“When I decided to race in the APRC, I did not know anything about the conditions or the competition, but I enjoyed all the rallies though I would have liked the fight with Gill to extend to the last round in China.
“I am also extremely happy with the tyres that MRF have supplied. I think, we had just two punctures through the season, but that too because we hit some rocks,” said Tidemand.
Enjoying an overnight lead of over four minutes, Tidemand maintained his flow and rhythm through the 10 Special Stages run, attacking the corners and never easing off.
“That was the only way I could keep my concentration, although my target was to finish the event safely,” said Tidemand.
The sixth and concluding round of the 2015 Asia Pacific Rally Championship will be held in China from.
Provisional classification (APRC):
Pontus Tidemand / Emil Axelsson (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia S2000) 1 (02hrs, 24mins, 49.5secs); Michael Young / Malcolm Read (Cusco Racing, Subaru Impreza WRX STi) 2 (); Hitoshi Takayama / Hideki Takeyabu (Immens Motorsport, Subaru Impreza WRX STi) 3 ( ).