Deheragoda Asia’s second on terrain of death



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Dinesh Deheragoda (left) along with Shafraz Junaid, the co-driver at the APRC, Logyou, China


Revata S. Silva reporting


from Longyou, China


After a fascinating display on what could be termed a terrain of death here in the Asia-Pacific Motor Rally Championship (APRC) China leg, Sri Lanka’s debut runner Dinesh Deheragoda of Ezy Racing ended up second in Asia and the prestigious fourth overall, on Sunday, November 9 here in Longyou, China.


"This is my 17th year in motor racing and driving in a FIA (the world body of the sport) event for the first time. I’m really happy about the overall results achieved in China," Deheragoda told The Island after he end of the rally on Sunday.


Hampered by minor problems that propped up in his car, Deheragoda, aided by navigator Shafraz Junaid, had to look for caution rather than aggression in the final Special Stages of the rally and give up a fight against the APRC third place holder Michael Young in his bid for another podium-finish.


Longyou, a city in eastern China in the Zhejiang Province, offered a challenging track half concrete and half gravel, something extraordinary in the whole APRC circuit— and in Saturday’s misty, rainy and chilly conditions, one young Taipei driver, running in the China Rally took place simultaneously on the same route, suffered death after his car had fallen into waters and tumbled.


"By far this is the toughest track I’ve ever driven in. In fact, I have not evidenced a fatality before in a rally which I’ve taken part in," Deheragoda added. The tragedy caused the organisers to cancel the closing ceremony on Sunday where Sri Lanka’s Deheragoda would have enjoyed his first-ever podium-finish in a FIA-organised event.


Saturday’s adverse weather conditions saw many drivers falling off the track, cars tumbling and ex champions getting crashed yet Deheragoda was, amid admiration by many, managed to survive and finish the rally showing maturity of a seasoned driver, a character which could be rare in a FIA rally debutante.


"I need to thank the Sports Minister (Mahindananda Aluthgamage), the Ceylon Motor Sports Club, which is the governing council of FIA in Sri Lanka, and all my followers. Not worried about not having been able to enter the podium after being second. It was as a mark of respect for the driver who is dead.


"I’m now planning for the Thailand event and to retain my second place in the Asia Cup there and be amongst the first three in a FIA event for the first time from Sri Lanka," he said.


FINAL RESULTS OF APRC LONGYOU, CHINA:


(Key: Final Position / Name and country / Team / Vehicle / Final Stage Time)


1. Jan Kopecky of Czechoslovakia / MRF / Skoda Fabia S2000 / 02.57:10.3


2. Yuya Sumiyama of Japan / Cusco Racing / Subaru Impreza WRX STI Special / 03.01:07.5


3. Michael Young of New Zealand / Cusco Racing / Proton Satria Neo / 03.22:02.5


4. Dinesh Deheragoda of Sri Lanka / Ezy Racing / Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X / 03.53:56.3.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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