The 30-year wait came to an end as Shafraz Junaid and Akhry Ameer won the island’s first podium finish by becoming overall second runner-up in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship at Chikmagalur in November 2017.
Local favorite Gaurav Gill won the final leg and went on to claim the APRC Championship title this year.
Improvement from last year’s close finish
Last year, Shafraz and Akhry took part in the Indian Rally Championship category but missed the podium by a mere few seconds. This year, they took one further step by representing Sri Lanka in the APRC 2WD category, last contested by Dinesh Deheragoda in year 2015.
“I enjoyed the competition last year and this year as well, running over 200 km under pressure. I am so happy,” said Shafraz in his post-race interview.
The significance of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
In three decades of APRC, the lion flag was elevated at the podium for the very first time this year. Not just the competitiveness but the significance of the competition is highlighted by this fact as winning this competition has been quite a struggle.
Even in the midst of such competition, Akhry emphasizes on sportsmanship by recalling an incident from the race.
“It’s also about sportsmanship. I recall having a problem with my helmet strand and one of the co-drivers helped me. This is the kind of spirit that makes us feel welcomed. Not just the competitors and the organizers but the people who have helped us throughout,” said Akhry.
Moreover, Akhry and Shafraz also had the opportunity to help a fellow competitor with his car during the competition.
Preparation for APRC 2017
First are foremost, Shafraz was grateful for Dinesh Deheragoda who invited him to co-drive in the 2015 and 2016 APRC season. He thanked a few more individuals for helping him coordinate his entry to the competition in an interview with the Sunday Times.
Shafraz and Akhry’s local sponsor Maxxis was with them throughout their journey and he was also grateful for HTL Logistics and Contura Lanka for their contribution.
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