The 2.5, kilometre dirt track that snaked around Plaza Angsana near Johor Bharu was packed with people as rally cars screamed their way around the circuit.
It seems like a small innovation but I think this is what rallying needs, a special stage or two in the city for regular people who are not dedicated rally fans to enjoy the proceedings...
Video and more photos after the jump
We will upload a video of day one ina few hours so do come back, in the meantime look at pictures here and read the Press release below and a short video of the shakedown at the special stage
JOHOR BAHRU - Japan's Yuya Sumiyama is the fastest of them all alongside
Indonesia's Rifat Sungkar on the opening day of the Malaysian Rally 2011 in
Over the purposes built 2.5km dirt track for the special stage race on Friday,
the two of them in a similiar Mitsubishi Evo X, clocked a similiar 2mins 02.1secs
to finish at the top.
The achievement from the two of them will certainly give them the physcological
boost as the Rally move into the rugged terrains of the Tai Tak Estate on
Saturday and Sunday where the real action will take place.
The Scottish driver Alister McRae of the Proton Motorsports Team came in third
fastest in 2mins 02.5secs with India's Gaurav Gill in a Mitsubishi EvoX fourth in
The best Malaysian finisher was Muhammad Rafiq Udhaya, the overall
Malaysian Rally defending champion in a Subaru Impreza who came in 13th
fastest in a time of 2mins 18.9secs.
"The special stage race is designed for the spectators who want a close up
look of the car in action. So there is no need to go flat out and take unnecessary
"But I feel comfortable in my car and finished the race feeling very good.
That's more important as we prepare for the real rallying action tomorrow and
Sunday," said Muhammad Rafiq.
A total of 35 cars took part in the special stage race, adjacent to the Angsana
Shopping centre and the organisers were happy with what they saw.
"The special stage race gave the spectators the chance to catch the drivers in
action from close-up. That's the purpose. But we believe things can be done
better next year to add more excitement to the fans.
"We are thinking of widening the track to allow for a two-car race instead of
the one car system we just used. Having two cars side by side would be more
competitive and more challenging," said Clerk of Course Tengku Shaharin Abu