Team MRF scores a victory in Whangarei
Despite the short preparation time, wins two podium spots in the New Zealand rally
With the car set up in a remarkably short space of time, Team MRF, the Indian sponsored rally team, has won the APRC New Zealand Rally. The team had only one full day of testing to get familiar with the new Skoda s2000 and for the engineers to get the car up to race standards.
Chris Atkinson, on his first outing with the team piloted the new Skoda s2000, winning with a 28.1 second lead over his nearest competitor, making it the first ever victory for the MRF team in New Zealand. Further success followed for the team as Atkinson’s team mate, Indian driver Gaurev Gill, finished the rally in third place, capping off a great weekend.
Atkinson said, “the car, the tyres, everything worked really well. It was always going to be tough being up against the factory proton team. The MRF team came along with a brand new car and straight out of the box we were on the pace and able to control the rally.”
A few edgy moments were expected with the untested set up and the team nearly saw disaster after Atkinson couldn’t avoid a collision with a bridge and damaged the front suspension. But he drove on consistently to take the win.
Swedish driver P-G Anderson, Atkinson’s closest rival said “Chris did a great job today... we’ve been trying to catch up as much as we could but we couldn’t do it just by driving - he had to make a mistake.”
The team will now have an earned rest after a frantic weekend, with plenty of time to get ready for the second round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, which will be on the 28th of April in Novelle Caledonie.