Extreme conditions overcome and the hat-trick completed: ŠKODA won again in its core market of China and remains on course for the title at the halfway point in this season’s FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
Gaurav Gill / Glenn Macneall were unbeatable again in the APRC classification at the China Rally Zhangye, meaning they remain undefeated after three rallies in the prestigious continental championship. The second ŠKODA MRF duo of Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian joined them on the podium, finishing third in the APRC competition after an impressive fightback.
After the two rallies in New Zealand and Australia, a rally with a completely new character awaited the drivers at a new venue in China. The route took them through the steppe on the edge of the Gobi Desert, where the road surface was stony in some places and sandy in others. The extreme conditions really put the drivers through their paces all weekend. Temperatures of up to 44 degrees and extreme dryness only added to what was already a very demanding route. However, the ŠKODA MRF team successfully overcame this challenge.
Fabian Kreim also produced a strong display in the Gansu province, not far from the border with Mongolia. He failed to reach the finish on Saturday, following a technical issue on the fifth special stage. Kreim rejoined the rally on Sunday and was the fastest man in the field, winning stages with outstanding times. In doing so, he fought his way back into third to make it onto the APRC podium for the third time, after two runner-up finishes in New Zealand and Australia.
The ŠKODA Motorsport lines up in WRC2 at the German round of the FIA World Rally Championship (18 to 21 August), as well as the Rally China (8 to 11 September). The latter will provide the next opportunity to showcase the ŠKODA FABIA R5 in what is a core market for the Czech car maker.
The number for the Rally Zhangye: 1500
Up and away: the China Rally Zhangye took place at about 1500 metres above sea level. This makes it the highest event on the calendar. As such, it places a far greater strain on man and machine, as the oxygen percentage in the air is lower than at other rallies.