Mike Young completed a remarkable recovery from a calamitous accident he had on Saturday to finish the runner up in the penultimate leg of Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) here in Longyou, China yesterday. He also finished third on the podium in the overall rally.
The 21-year old New Zealander representing Sri Lankan team Ezy Racing coasted home behind undisputed Swedish champion Pontus Tidemand who had already sealed the 2015 APRC title before he arrived here in China having won four out of five APRC rallies this year.
The second place allowed Young also to storm into the second place in overall APRC standings, overtaking Tidemand’s MRF-Skoda teammate Gaurav Gill of India. Gill, the 2013 APRC champion crashed out early in the first stage here on Saturday when he went off and rolled over, destroying his powerful Skoda Fabia S2000 in an accident that ended his China Rally and broke his co-driver Glenn McNeal’s collarbone.
Coming into China, Tidemand was leading the standings on 186 points while Gill who was the only driver apart from the champion to win an APRC Rally this season, was a distant second on 104 points. Young who was on 90 points coming into China collected 18 points here to move into second place with 108 points and with further added bonus points has now assured himself of the runner-up position of the APRC this season as Gill has not entered the final rally in India.
Young also went off and rolled over like Gill, but unlike the Indian, fought back with true grit and guts to reach the finish line yesterday despite being held up for nearly 22 minutes when he had the mishap in the seventh and last stage on a tough Saturday. After the car turned turtle, Young and his co-driver Malcolm Read climbed out of the car, mustered the support of helpful spectators to roll the car back to position and drive home.
Young felt he was lucky to finish despite the setback, though it realistically had more to do with his determination.
“This was one of the toughest ones we’ve ever had. Considering the things that we’ve overcome this weekend and the challenges we faced, I feel we were pretty lucky to be at the finish. We just got to be happy about that” said Young.
The accident came as the eventual result of a busted power steering that plagued the car even from the shakedown. The highly skilful team of Japanese mechanics of Ezy Racing’s technical partner Cusco led by Takuya Sugimura did not have enough time to detect the issue which cropped up, debilitating the power steering when the car heated up.
Young had been fatigued over the limit by driving on the tough terrain without power steering by the they reached final stage on a long first day, and the error came as a result of his tiredness, Read told “Daily Mirror”.
“It is no discredit to him. There wasn’t any more he could do as power steering wasn’t working as it should have” Read explained.
Young offered no excuses but it was clear that the faulty power steering had pushed him to the limit as he revealed that the place he went off was not a difficult point to negotiate.
“It wasn't great with no power-steering. Unfortunately we rolled - on an almost straight piece of road that went slightly right. I just couldn't turn the wheel, we went up a bank and over we went” he described the incident.
“A crowd of people pulled the Subaru back onto its wheels. No sooner had we set off again and we realised that both front tyres were flat, we had to stop and change. All in all we lost of 22 minutes” Young added on his Facebook wall.
Last evening at the closing ceremony, Young was smiling broadly after two hard days.
“I am Really happy. We got into the place we wanted to be at the start. We have got points in all the classes. We also won the production cup for the year. It has been one of the most challenging weekends here-lots of car trouble and the roll-over yesterday. But the toughest thing has been to drive without power steering all weekend and it has been pretty tough on the body”.
Read who had a front seat view of Young’s driving skills for three seasons on the APRC said Rally China added whole new level experience to the promising driver.
“Mental toughness was what he really had to have this weekend. Not only were the driving conditions terrible in term of the road conditions but he also had to overcome the power steering issue. That was so physically demanding on the body. Not only was he mentally concentrating on the pace notes and driving the car but the car wasn’t up to scratch. That’s quite draining and took its toll unfortunately with the roll-over” said Read.
With championship leader Hitoshi Takayama of Japan and third placed Gaurav Gill of India both not taking part in the final APRC leg in India next month, Young who is in the second place at the moment is almost assured of the 2015 Asia Cup title just by finishing in India.
“I will win Asia Cup definitely” Young promised his Sri Lanka fans after the final ceremony yesterday.