Whangarei (New Zealand): Team MRF`s Chris Atkinson (co-driver Stephane Prevot) won the Brother International Rally of Whangarei, the first round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, here Sunday while teammate and Indian champion Gaurav Gill (Glenn Macneall) came in third.
Australian Atkinson, who like Gill was in a Skoda Fabia S2000 car, spared 28.1 seconds to fellow-APRC contender Sweden`s Per-Gunnar Andersson.
It was the car`s first event with Team MRF. Last year, Atkinson won the event in a Proton Satria Neo S2000, the car now driven by Andersson.
Atkinson said: "It`s been a great weekend. The team has been amazing. 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 were able to control the rally, which is great. I was just driving to beat PG - that is all I was worried about, the APRC points, and while we could have gone a bit faster in places, we were trying to judge our speed and not try doing anything we didn`t have to," added Atkinson.
The Brother International Rally of Whangarei covered 283.28 km over roads around Whangarei and through the Northland and Kaipara regions. The event attracted nearly 50 drivers from India, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Sweden, United Kingdom, and New Caledonia as well as all over New Zealand.