Karamjit Singh won Round 2 of the Malaysian Rally Championship in Johor last weekend. The victory was all the more special as his 2WD 1.6 litre Proton Satria Neo R3 Rally overcame 4WD turbocharged cars from Mitsubishi and Subaru. It was the first time a 2WD 1600 car has won the overall Malaysian Rally in the 10-year history of the MRC in Johor.
The Flying Sikh dominated proceedings by winning nine of the 14 special stages of the rally, which ran over three days in Johor Bahru and Kota Tinggi. Known as one of the world’s toughest rally events, conditions were made worse by torrential rain turning the gravel trails into a slippery mudfest, causing many accidents.
Karamjit won six out of eight stages in Leg 1, building a 1:45 lead over Chinese driver Fan Fan in an Evo X. 23-year old Proton R3 Team junior driver Kenneth Koh in the other Neo put in an inspired drive to climb up to fifth from last place after incurring a five minute penalty in the first stage. He later retired from fourth due to a broken driveshaft.
Karamjit started where he left off by winning one of three stages in Leg 2. As the stages were drying out, Fan Fan clawed back three stage victories only to lose more time after a big spin. The leader went on to win two more stages to seal victory with a huge 2 minutes and 47 seconds lead.
“I never drove so intense in a rally in a long time. It was very hard work. The Proton R3 team did a fantastic job and provided me with a car that was trouble-free and performed well even under challenging conditions,” he said. With a win each between Karamjit and Fan Fan, the championship is very open. The third round of the MRC will be held in Negeri Sembilan in October.
The Malaysian Rally in Johor was also the fourth round of the 2014 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. Indian driver Gaurav Gill won the APRC event in his Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000. He beat Australian Mark Pedder (Evo) and China’s Jun Xu (Fabia S2000). With the win, Gill is back in the title race, and he now trails leader Jan Kopecky by just eight points.
Watch Karamjit Singh in action in Driven Web Series, where he takes on our own (fake) Flying Sikh. Like in the rally, he took on, and beat, more powerful turbocharged machines handled by less skilled drivers :)