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APRC: Asia Pacific Rally Championship returns to India in 2020 with South India Rally

Team OD

The Asia Pacific Rally Championship is set to make a return to India, with the South India Rally in 2020. It has been announced that the second round of the 2020 APRC series, will be hosted in Chennai, on the 14th and 15th of March. The rally will be organised by the Madras Motor Sports Club (MMSC). In recent times, India had played host to the APRC with the India Rally in Chikmagalur in 2016 and 2017. Although the event wasn't run as an APRC round in 2018.

Dean Mascarenhas in action in his VW Polo during Round 1 of the 2019 INRC in Chennai

Currently, the MMSC is looking for private land in order to build the rally stages. While three stages are already available (the MMSC has reportedly spent a fortune laying the soft gravel and foundation for the stage that has been built around the Madras Motor Race Track), the hunt is on for suitable land in order to run two more stages, and help make up the minimum total competitive stage distance of 150km.

The South India Rally was run as an APRC contender event in 2015, and was observed by the FIA.

Speaking to OVERDRIVE, Vicky Chandhok, president of the APRC Working Group, said, "Having the APRC in India is very important from the perspective of running an international championship here. And also since I'm the president of the APRC working group, I think it was important to try and bend over backwards to make sure my country can at least run a round. Rather than waiting for everyone else to do it, we decided do it ourselves."

Chandhok also went on to elaborate that the hunt for private land comes in the aftermath of the Jodhpur incident in which three individuals lost their lives after forcibly entering a live rally stage. To minimise risks, running the rally on public property has been ruled out.

Speaking of the ongoing hunt for property, Chandhok said, "We've received good enthusiasm. A lot of people have already sent me messages and calls saying 'Look, this is available.' So, effectively tomorrow, we've got eleven people going in four different directions, looking for stages."

"We've already got three stages. So what I am trying to do is to try and increase the stages to five. If we have five stages, the minimum that we have to do is 150km, but we are trying to do 170km-plus. So we can run the stages twice in each direction. Mathematically, if I have 50km of good surface stages, I can run up to 200km," Chandhok said.

The 2020 APRC will be held over nine rallies. Four rallies will form part of the Asia Cup, which begins in Japan in February, then moves to India, Indonesia and China. An additional four will be part of the Pacific Cup, with the Rally of Whangarei, and the Otago Rally being held in New Zealand, and the Tasmania and Coffs Harbour events being run in Australia. However, the Rally of Hokkaido in Japan will earn competitors points for both the Asia Cup and Pacific Cup.

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