Canberra, Australia – Sunday May 5th … Day two of the three-day Rally of Canberra was one of the best the team has so far experienced. Recovering from a mishap on day one, where the crew of Saladin Mazlan and Jerry Freeman lost six minutes stuck against a tree, Saladin really got to grips with the Hyundai World Rally Car and posted fastest time on SS11. Being consistently in the top five on all stages allowed the crew to recover some of the lost time, and they ended the day fastest overall of the APRC contenders. This has given the team three very valuable championship points.
With some of the top crews, including Malaysia’s Karamjit Singh and Allen Oh, dropping out of the rally on the second day, the team was very hopeful of a good final result. But; things started badly this morning when a bolt holding the sump guard sheered – proving difficult to remove, and the car was four minutes late out of the service park – incurring an unwanted forty second penalty. Then, at high speed on the second stage of the day, a rock thrown up by an earlier competitor struck the front wheel, ripping it clean off along with the front hub assembly. This, unfortunately, was the end of a very fine run in a car with which Saladin has minimal experience.
Team Manager Ali Mazlan said “Obviously everyone is disappointed, but in reality, it has been an excellent rally for us, and a good start to the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. Saladin is now very confident in the car, the stage times have been competitive – especially given that most of the crews have considerable local knowledge – and we have gained championship points. The accident on day one could easily have put us out of the rally, so to complete almost three quarters with good stage results is very positive” he continued. The attrition rate surprised even regular competitors, with ten of the twelve crews entered for this year’s APRC not making it to the finish.
Manager of Media Relations Paul Russell commenting on the overall feeling of competing in Canberra said “Everyone here has been so supportive and so interested in our exploits, the experience has been a real boost for the team’s morale. Television, radio and print media personnel have been almost mobbing the team with questions at every available opportunity. Hyundai Australia has gone out of its way to help us, and for that we’re very grateful” he noted “and in general, everyone has pitched in to make the lives of Saladin Rallying and MSD that much easier. We’re looking forward to the possibility of returning next year” he concluded.
Throughout the year though, the team will also rely on a large amount of Malaysian support. The Silverstone rally tires have performed even better than expected. Grip levels are high, even on the worst of surfaces, and tire wear has been less than anticipated. Saladin expressed complete confidence in their use. And; two Malaysian mechanics are working hard alongside the MSD engineers, gaining valuable experience of maintaining a top-level car.
The main focus of the team’s exploits for this year is the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) which consists of six events. Following the Rally of Canberra the team will travel to the French Pacific island of New Caledonia, the Rotorua region of New Zealand, plus China, Japan and Thailand.