ŠKODA in the APRC
The APRC, or FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, is the official FIA regional rally championship for the Asia and Oceania regions. It first took place back in 1988, when the FIA were looking to build on the successful expansion of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) into these regions.
Initially many of the events were joint WRC/APRC rallies, but this arrangement dwindled and the last such rally was the New Zealand Rally in 2000. Since then, the championships have diversified and for a long time the APRC was almost exclusively a Group N series, which in turn saw it become mostly a privateer’s series.
But the growth of Super 2000 regulations has seen the series blossom again as the big manufacturers have returned in their droves.
Today the series takes place over six hotly contested events across the region.
It starts with the Rally of Whangarei on fast, smooth New Zealand roads between 29th April and 1st May. Next up is the Rally of Queensland in Australia from 17th-19th June, a hot dry event taking place in spectacular settings along the Queensland coast.
Then, on 6th and 7th August comes the China Rally, which takes place in the bamboo forests and mountains of Zhejiang province. From there it is a short hop east for the Rally Hokkaido in spectacular forest settings in northern Japan. This takes place on 24th and 25th September.
Next up is the heat and humidity of the Malaysian Rally, which takes place in the southern city of Johor Bahru from 29th-30th October. And finally, after a long gap the championship concludes with a brand new event, the Rally India, on 10th and 11th December, in the heat and dust of Chikmagalur.
It is a series where ŠKODA has enjoyed enormous success over the past few years, thanks to the ŠKODA Fabia S2000.
The first ŠKODA series victory came back in 2012, when Australian driver Chris Atkinson won two of the first three rallies, the Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand, and the Rally Queensland in Australia. Three further second place finishes saw him clinch ŠKODA’s first APRC title.
2013 saw Indian driver Gaurav Gill claim the title with victories in New Caledonia and Hokkaido ahead of teammate and current ŠKODA Motorsport driver Esapekka Lappi, who actually won three events himself, but failed to surpass Gill’s points total.
A year on and it was a dominant performance by another current ŠKODA Motorsport driver, Jan Kopecký, who won four rallies and came second in a fifth as he wrapped up the crown in just four events. Two more victories for Gaurav Gill saw a clean sweep of event victories for ŠKODA too.
And on to 2015, it was Pontus Tidemand’s turn to dominate proceedings. He won five out of six rallies, finishing second to Gaurav Gill only in the Rally de Nouvelle Calédonie. The last round of the season saw a championship debut for the ŠKODA Fabia R5 which Tidemand drove to a stunning 34 minutes victory over his nearest rival.
ŠKODA is back in the APRC in 2016 and hoping for yet more success for the ŠKODA Fabia R5 in this significant regional series. This year it is Fabian Kreim who is the new teammate of experienced Gaurav Gill. The talented young German will be driving a ŠKODA Fabia R5 in all six rounds of the APRC, alongside his experienced regular co-driver Frank Christian.