Auto Force prepared Subaru challenge faster cars on track
Defending Rally Champion Shafraz Junaid, co – driven by name sake Shafraz Hamzadeen in the EZY Subaru ER3, prepared by Auto Force, battled for supremacy with Dinesh Deheragoda all the way down to the last stage in the second round of Rally Sevanagala organised jointly by the MRA and CMSC, which was concluded over the weekend in the vicinity of the Sevanagala Sugar Cooperation.
Shafraz, who came into this rally at the back of a luckless rally in June during the first round of the championship, where he finished sixth due to a series of misfortunes, showed great determination right from the start when he won a stage, finishing among the top three in every stage of the rally which comprised of seven stages, fighting it all the way down to the last stage with Deheragoda, who eventually won the rally from Shafraz to lead the championship. Experienced driver Reyaz Farook went on to win his first podium finish of the year ending third.
EZY Racing in its bid to win the third Rally Championship in as many years went into the rally with their race rally drivers Rizvi Farouk, 2009 Rally Champion in his EZY Subaru ER9 and Shafraz Junaid, 2010 Rally Champion in his EZY Subaru ER3. Both Rizvi and Shafraz were continuously at the pace setting stage winning times along with Deheragoda who was racing for Team CIFL along with teammate Deepthi Perera. EZY Racing, who have set a benchmark in local rally racing and professional race backup, were given a terrific race back up by their mechanical partner Auto Force, who had both cars in prime condition for every stage.
At the completion of day one, Shafraz was in close pursuit of Rally leader Dinesh when he sent a strong message of his intentions by winning the last stage of the day with team mate Rizvi Farouk, who was consistently the fastest in most of the sectors within a stage, lying third.
With three more stages to complete the Rally, both Shafraz and Rizvi were determined to up their pace to challenge the rally leader. Shafraz who started as car number one on day two set an astonishing pace by being the fastest in sector one and two in the fifth stage (first stage in day two) before a heating radiator forced him to nurse the car to the end of the stage thereby conceding the stage win to Deheragoda by seven seconds. Rizvi who is known for his daredevil driving put up a blistering time during sector one before his car went off the rally track forcing him to retire from the rally.
“With Rizvi’s retirement the onus was on me to bring the team to the top. With two more stages to be completed, we decided to go all out in the remaining stages. Unfortunately a broken shock forced us to nurse the car further and be content with second place. This rally was certainly one of the fastest I have ever driven. All credit goes to the organisers who did a commendable job in providing challenging routes for us to drive on” said Shafraz Junaid after the rally. “It is not possible to win every rally we participate in, although people expect EZY Racing to win every rally that takes place. Second place is a very satisfactory performance considering the caliber of the drivers and the strength of the competitors. We could have definitely challenged for a much stronger position if we were more aggressive in the first two stages. We felt we lost a lot in the first stage specially, and there onwards it was always damage limitation. However, we have many positives out of this rally, and we will definitely work on improving our car to be stronger in the coming rallies”
EZY Racing, who have become Sri Lanka’s foremost racing team over the last three years are currently positioned second in the 2011 Sri Lankan Rally Championship. “It was a mixed weekend for us. We were in a very strong position to challenge for a victory and definitely had second and third positions in our bag. Unfortunately Rizvi had to retire from the race with three stages to go, and we then had to alter our plans of challenging for a win and focus on carrying maximum points home. We are a very professional team which has detailed strategies worked with contingency plans in place.
Given the level of planning we go through, this weekend’s performance was very satisfying. We obviously have to focus on a few loose ends, which we are sure we will get in place with the next few races to come” Said Shafraz Hamzadeen Team Principal/ CEO EZY Motor Racing Corporation. “Personally, I believe Shafraz (Junaid) drove at his absolute best during this rally. Our success would not have been possible without the commitment and support we received from our mechanical partners Auto Force and Wurth Lanka who provided us the necessary tools and resources to ensure our cars were always at its peak” With the season almost coming to a closure in a few more months, Hamzadeen said that his team has already set their sights on the 2012 season and the cars and driver line up.
“Although we as a team are well into our plans for 2012, we will continue to support both Rizvi and Shafraz who are jointly second in the Rally Championship with all the resources needed to go for their second rally championship”