Sat, 04 Jun 1994

Swedish racer Eriksson set for Medan rally

JAKARTA (JP): World-class rally driver Kenneth Eriksson of Sweden is confident he will be able to tame the demanding track in Medan when he guns his Mitsubishi Evolution in the North Sumatra Rally.

"Though this will be my first appearance in Indonesia, I have learned a lot of the difficult rally venues from videos and thorough discussions with my Mitsubishi teammate Kenjiro Shinozuka," Eriksson told newsmen here yesterday.

Japanese Shinozuka has been a regular participant of rally events in Indonesia for many years.

Eriksson and his long time partner and navigator, Staffan Parmandar, were here yesterday. They left for the North Sumatra capital today to inspect the track which curls around palm oil and rubber plantations.

More than fifty cars have submitted their entry forms to the committee for the four-day annual rally from June 16 to 19, committee spokesman Helmy Sungkar said.

"We expect more participants by next week," he said.

The rally officially called Bentoel Rally Indonesia '94 will be split into 26 Special Stages (SS) covering a stretch of 429.72 kilometers. The event is this year's opening of the Asia Pacific Rally scheduled to be staged in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and China.

Eriksson, who has been with Mitsubishi team for the last four years, was ranked sixth in the world last year. And since the introduction of the Lancer Evolution series in 1993 to replace the Gallant VR-4 model, it has jumped to an impressive performance in world rallies, Eriksson said.

"We have been setting up the rally as our test of our products," said Maswir, marketing director of Krama Yudha Tiga Berlian (KTB) which assembles Mitsubishi cars in Indonesia.

Making its debut in the prestigious Monte Carlo rally in January, 1993, Lancer Evolution finished fourth and sixth overall. Its best performance was in the closing of the 1993 world rally series in the Lombard RAC Rally by taking second and eighth.

"I think with Kenjiro and Eriksson behind the wheels of their excellent cars, they will have a better chance to win the rally," said Maswir.

However, Eriksson added: "It's really difficult to say as there will be other good drivers in the fray. They are all world class drivers." (rsl)