Shah Alam, Malaysia – Monday April 29th., 2002 … Saladin Mazlan and Jerry Freeman in the MSD-prepared Hyundai Accent World Rally Car can not expect an easy run in this weekend’s Rally of Canberra.
The first round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) has attracted about fifty entries, many of which are from Australian crews with an intimate knowledge of the forest areas surrounding Australia’s capital city. In addition, there will be a number of APRC regulars, including of course current champions – Malaysia’s Karamjit Singh and Allen Oh. Following their tremendous result in Cyprus, “Karam” and Allen are expected to be in top form, as will be Kiwi driver Possum Bourne.
Possum and Saladin are both old friends and adversaries. Commenting recently on the quality of the entries, Possum said “Obviously you’ve got Saladin in the Hyundai World Rally Car. A lot of people think he will be slow, but I know he will be bloody fast.” And that is what the team is hoping, because winning the Championship is this year’s goal.
Saladin has spent two days testing the World Rally Car in Canberra on stages similar to those which will be used in the rally. He reports … “Everything has gone well this weekend. We had some minor gearbox problems, but they were quickly resolved, and the made-in-Malaysia Silverstone rally tires have performed to expectations.” Tuesday and Wednesday will be spent recceing the stages, making pace notes and determining strategy. Thursday will be the final test of the rally car on the “shakedown,” and Friday the first of the event’s three legs begins in Canberra.
All APRC events are of the “super rally” format, which allows cars retiring from one leg to re-enter the next. If an unforeseen problem should occur with the car, the crew can continue the next day in order to gain experience with the very specialized World Rally Car. To date, Saladin has less than 200kms of experience in the car, and so getting in as many stage miles as possible is one of the team’s priorities.
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.