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Karam extends championship lead on Rally Finland

In defiance of tough local competition, Malaysia’s top rally star, Karamjit Singh, driving a Gp N Proton PERT, successfully completed one of world rallying’s most chnically challenging events today. An impressive debut on the 2002 Rally Finland saw the reigning Asia Pacific Champion extend his lead in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship by an astonishing eight points over chief rival Ramon Ferreyros. A third place on his fourth rally in the series also maintains his copybook record of achieving a podium position on every round of the championship he has competed in this year.

With Legs 1 and 2 of the event having claimed almost half the field, 36 competitors left a lively Paviljonki service area in Jyvaskyla at 07.20 this morning for the third and final day of the rally. Warm sunshine again accompanied teams as they headed south for two loops of three special stages and 94.36kms. One stage of which, the 12.67km Kruununpera (SS19/21), had never been used before, lessening the advantage of those who are regular visitors to these roads.

Leg 3 may have been the shortest of the event but it was still as difficult as its predecessors and many a leader board has been turned on its head on the final day of the rally. However, Karam, determined to secure four valuable points in the FIA Production Cup, drove steadily thorough all six stages of today’s final hurdle to score a superb result.

Karam comments: “This rally really makes you understand the true meaning of the word flying, it should be known as ‘The Rally of a Thousand Jumps’. We just took it steady throughout the weekend and without the turbo failure I’m sure we would have finished second – but I’m certainly not disappointed to have finished third and score four championship points on my first visit to Finland.

“On the re-run of stages I tried hard to not let myself get over confident. I just concentrated on the pace notes and it really paid off. It is such a difficult rally, very technical and very fast, and it has definitely taught me a lot as these type of roads are a totally new experience for me. I’m very happy to have come here and to have finished let alone take a podium position. It’s a brilliant achievement and I think we’ve surprised quite a few locals with our performance on our first attempt here. It’s a great result for the whole team.”

A win on the next round of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship, Rally New Zealand, would see him clinch the title with one round (Rally Australia) remaining.