Sumiyama won Asia-cup title while Bamba showed superb run in Swift Sport
The final round of 2010 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship(APRC), “China Rally Longyou” was took place from 5-7 November based Longyou, one of the counties of Quzhou City, Zhejiang Province. Cusco Racing brought two of Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X driven by Hiroshi Yanagisawa and Yuya Sumiyama to the event. Additionally Akira Bamba with Suzuki Swift Sport made debut in China round as single attendance which meant Cusco Racing run three machines for the final round of the season.
The character of China Rally has been normally twisty gravel road through bamboo forest. However adopting amendments of regulation for FIA regional championship, this years rally organized mixture surface of gravel and concrete. The sealed surface covered approximately 30% of total competitive distance. However no section designed as single surface, also all-sealed stage was only one which would be used twice. Additionally, the character of pave around this area is concrete covered slight dust which made slippery condition even in dry condition. Ironically this year’s China Rally showed nice blue sky first time in past four years which made driver some confusion with unusual condition.
This year’s APRC missed one of scheduled round in Indonesia due to extremely heavy rain which destroyed the stages. Cusco Racing, also nominated the Indonesian round to run, forwarded their container without any open to China. For Yanagisawa and Sumiyama, the main aim for this China Rally was actually securing Asia-cup title. However, due to the Indonesian cancellation, overall title chance still remained for other three drivers in the championship which meant clearly almost all top drivers were likely to put hard attack for the victory and the titles. Therefore naturally the circumstance was very tense. Meanwhile, for Bamba who does not have any pressure for title battle, it’s interested in seeing comparison his time with machines in same class. Additionally conjunct Chinese National championship teams invited many top European drivers for gained points for teams championship. Now the service park had some similar mood as like “World championship”.
The rally was kicked off by gorgeous Chinese style start ceremony followed by opening Super SS on 5th November. Running dirt-trial circuit of the stage, Sumiyama made brilliant start set by third fastest time followed by Yanagisawa who adrift 0.8 sec from Sumiyama with 6th fastest time. Bamba who drive among N2 class showed competitive pace even against N4 class and marked 33rd fastest time in all 44 starts which get many attention.
The proper rally competition started from 6th, but the rally saw big drama in such an early on. On first stage of the day, championship leader Katsu Taguchi was course off. To saving crew, following competition machines stop at the point and the stage was cancelled once. Meanwhile, Cusco racing’s contenders showed smooth driving and Yanagisawa marked fastest time on SS3. Sumiyama also showed stable pace and set top 4 times consistently. SS6 saw another big drama when other two remaining drivers having title chance retired consecutively. From the upset, mathematically APRC title handed to Taguchi. From then, all eyes went to battle for Asia-cup title between Cusco racing’s versus Proton. The Proton drivers set series of fastest time, but also lost some time by flat tyre which backed their overall position down. Sumiyama was also not an exception and having turbo trouble after setting fastest time on SS8. He brought his machine with the trouble back to Service Park as luckily his misfortune came at only final stage of the day. Eventually Yanagisawa is the person who finished in top position after trouble free run of the day and finished SS9 with fastest time. Sumiyama followed him by 5.8sec slower than him. To his excellent driving of the day, team mechanics respond by excellent works to swap the turbo in only 20 minutes.
Now all final battled to the title started on Day2. But another tragedy hit Yanagisawa on first stage of the day when his machine’s rear drive-shaft broken at one of series of hairpin. As Asia-cup was really near at his hand, the retirement was too bitter. Downhearted his feeling was received by Sumiyama who became the leader after Yanagisawa. Deflecting Proton’s hard attack, Sumiyama finished the rally in first place having hugely 29.7 seconds margin. From this result, he gained Asia-cup title. For Cusco Racing, this is second cup title since clinching Pacific-cup in 2008 driven by Australian Dean Herridge.
Meanwhile Bamba with Swift Sports corresponded varied Chinese road which he had never experienced in Japan, and set impressive times consistently. Showing superb driving against even national N4 competitors, his blight yellow coloured machine excited spectators. As almost half of starters faced to retire from extremely rough condition, Bamba’s machine also broken drive-shaft on SS13, but he coped the trouble with swapping onboard spare parts and backed to the competition. Eventually he finished in impressive 14th overall. His result showed brilliant potential in perfect way at first attending China.
“It was very difficult to choose compromising tyre on mixture surface, but it was good without losing time. The accident happened when just I got good rhythm, so it’s really shame. Still,Yuya won the title, so it was good result for team”
“I feel very good to driving as like best ever I had. Before came to China, we had many preparation including competing tarmac rally to correct useful data, so I think whole of team made good preparation from before the event. After arrived in China, we also had good testing. Team prepared wide range of L.S.D. setting, so it also worked to me nicely. I was concerned to be late at long stage, but I was able to drive as good as I imaged. This good result is rewarded from support of team and my driving. I also got valuable confident.”
“I’m very happy as I completed the rally. The road condition was very difficult such as hard base or sharp stone, so I was quite confused. I was careful to not break drive shaft, but eventually did. As given last of Car No., I reached car I ahead many time which brought me some time loss, but I couldn’t anything in N2 class. The road was too varied, so was very difficult to find good rhythm. But I learnt much in term of basic driving.