Karamjit eyes assault on American rally circuit


BY S. RAMAGURU

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's top rally driver Karamjit Singh is seeking fresh challenges and looking at opening a new frontier. 

The 40-year-old Karamjit, who forms the most successful Malaysian rally partnership with Allen Oh, said yesterday that he had plans for an assault on American soil next year – in the US Championships, which has nine legs. 

“I want to take up fresh challenges,” said Karamjit, who is defending the World Championships' production cars and Asia Pacific Championship titles this year. 

“I am looking at the American scene for the 2004 season. It will provide me with experiences which are different from those which I had gone through. 

“I want to add a new title to my collection and the US Rally Championships will provide me with new tests.” 

Participation in the US would mean having to give up one of the two championships in which Karamjit and Allen are competing in now. 

“If we get to compete in the US, we will give up the World Championships. We cannot race in all three circuits. But what happens next year will depend on our team, Pert (the Petronas Eon Racing Team), and their future challenges,” said said Karamjit. 

Karamjit and Allen have already started their challenge in this year's World Championships with a second-place finish in Sweden in February. 

Their next race is the second leg of the world circuit in New Zealand on April 9. Last year, the Malaysians did not finish the race in New Zealand because of mechanical failure. 

“That is the one aspect of rally that you cannot control. I hope to do better this year and hopefully we will finish among the top three,” said Karamjit. 

“I'm still using the same car as last year. The Mitsubishis and Subarus have improved on their cars and they will be the ones to watch but we are confident that we will be able to give strong challenges and be among the winners.” 

The World Championships have seven races but Karamjit and Allen will feature in six of them, the minimum number required for a particular team. 

Besides the race in New Zealand, the Malaysians will compete in Argentina (May 7-11), Cyprus (June 18-22), Germany (July 23-27) and Australia (Sept 3-7). They will not take part in Corsica in October. 

Karamjit and Allen are down for seven legs of the Asia Pacific Championships – Australia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Thailand and India. The opening leg will be held in Canberra from May 9-11. 

Karamjit added that he hoped to get a new car to enhance his chances of retaining the titles. 

“I think it is time we get a new car, if sponsors permit. We have been using the same make for the last few years and we will fall behind the others if we do not improve our cars,” said Karamjit whose successes last year with Allen won them the national Sportsman of the Year Award. 

“This depends on Pert as well as the other sponsors. It is not easy to get sponsors for rally and I hope that we can get people interested in it now that we have been successful on the world stage.” 

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