EZY Racing, the first ever Sri Lankan based motor racing team to compete internationally in a FIA accredited Championship were given their very first International Championship in just their second year in International Motor Sports, when their driving prodigy Mike Young secured the FIA Production Cup for 2015 for the Cusco EZY Racing Subaru Team in what was the most gruelling and challenging rally the Sri Lankan Motor Racing team ever had to compete in. The 22 Year old, Kiwi Driver who has provided glory for the Sri Lankan based team in their international journey, experienced the toughest rally in his 4 years of International Rallying when he experienced a multitude of challenges which involved heavy rain, non visibility, power steering problems that limited his driving capabilities and a topple that occurred due to the lack of power steering, to overcome them and complete the Rally to finish 3rd in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Chinese Leg and 2nd in Asia Cup Categopry of the Rally.
"We are very proud of our team’s achievement" said the jubilant founder of EZY Racing, Shafraz Hamzadeen. Hamzadeen who made bold strides in taking his team International in 2014 by playing against all odds to put Sri Lanka onto the world map of Motor Sports, was forced to rethink his approach to International Motor Sports after realising the widening gap between highest standards of Sri Lankan Motor Racing to the average standards of International Motor Racing. "I have always been a believer of focusing on the basics. Its the ability to do the basics very well that has provided us our very first championship internationally. I wish to extend my gratitude to everyone in Japan who worked tirelessly to engineer our car, the boys at the Service Park who worked relentlessly in order that we could operate in an efficient and effective manner on Rally Weekends, Mike (Young) for always giving his absolute best regardless of the situation we were in, Malcolm (Read) for being the most heroic co driver a driver a could ever hope for and Everyone at EZY Racing Sri Lanka who put their hearts and souls to structure this new setup that we designed earlier this year. Its the commitment of every single aspect of this team be it in Colombo or Japan that helped us achieve this success in the most sustainable manner" Said a grateful CEO of EZY Racing
With 5 Podium finishes in 6 races, Young was able to give the Cusco EZY Racing team an early advantage in the Production Cup Championship. "Its a long championship when you look back. Starting in April and going all the way to December is a long time. Strategically, we decided against running New Caledonia. That gave us a disadvantage as we were one rally less for the APRC Championship. We knew it was going to be an impossible task to beat both the MRF Skoda cars which were far superior to our car. Therefore, we took the risk of competing one rally less and fighting for the runner up position in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. Eight months later, it seems we made the wise choice as we finished 2nd in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship" said Young. The 22 year old finished 2nd best to Pontus Tidemand of the MRF Skoda team and managed to beat 2013 APRC Champion Gaurav Gill to 3rd place in the Championship. "Its a great feeling to have been able to give EZY Racing their first Championship. I have really enjoyed this season although it has been a tough one for us ever since we came into the Asian rounds. We had great success in the Pacific Rounds. However, the Asian rounds turned out to be far more challenging and harder on the car than we anticipated. We managed to get the best out of what we had and am very happy and pleased about it" commented the New Zealand Driver .
The Cusco EZY Racing Team who entered the Final Leg of the FIA Asia Pacific Championship with hopes of winning the Asia Cup, started the Rally off in an amazing Fashion when Young Finished the Spectator Stage on Day 1 within 5 seconds of MRF Skoda Champion drive Pontus Tidemand. Unfortunately, on Day 2 they were given a rude shock when Young was forced to manoeuvre the Cusco EZY Racing Subaru with no Power Steering in the narrow and tight concrete to gravel stages as early as the first stage in China, that saw the death of a 21 year old Rally driver in the 2014 edition of the Rally. Although the 2015 Rally did not see any human casualties, the first day saw the end of the Rally for many drivers as they succumbed to the gruelling nature of the Rally. "Its very difficult to drive the car in tight sections where certain stages are over 25 minutes without Power Steering. It drains the concentration because I had to eternally overwork my self. The fog, rain and lack of visibility also didn't help the cause. So I had to dig deep and make sure that I brought the car to the first service to see if the problem could be fixed. Unfortunately, I had to drive the whole of the first day without power steering which made it very tiring and it takes its toll on you. As a result we lost a lot of Ground against Takayama who was our main competitor for the Asia Cup" said Young after the completion of the 1st Stage that comprised of 7 Super Special Stages on Day 1. "This definitely was more challenging than Japan for us which was the toughest rally till we experienced this" said Young .
Young who was contending for the FIA Asia Cup Championship had to shift himself into plan B mid way through the first day when he realized that his team will only be able to fix the car's power steering related issue during the end of the day's 45 minute service break. "We tried to bring the car home and not lose too much of time to Takayama. When we realised that Gaurav had toppled and was out of the rally, we knew we had to hang in there not matter how hard it was to run without the power steering. Unfortunately in the last stage of the Day, we toppled the car. It was one of the slowest topples as the lack of power steering made it impossible to turn into a corner in time. Fortunately, Malcolm was able to get the help of a few Chinese Policemen who were around to turn the car back up for us to restart. Unfortunately, we had two flat tyres to change and that lost us over 25 minutes to the leader." commented the FIA 2015 Production Cup Champion. With the Rally Regulations allowing only 45 minutes at the end of Day 1 to resuscitate the car, and the team having to get penalised for every additional minute beyond the stipulated time, EZY Racing's performance and technical partners, Cusco did an amazing job in ensuring that they fixed almost all the problems within the short time frame. "I am simply amazed by the way Cusco managed to the get the car into a race ready condition within 45 minutes. We had to get Mike into Day 2 to have any chance of keeping our championship hopes alive. We knew the car wasn't at its best because there is only so much you could do within 45 minutes. Considering the tight time frame we knew we would have potential power steering issues on the second day as well" said Hamzadeen.
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Young continued to battle on Day 3 as well with power steering issues and despite the lack of power steering which considerably slowed him down, Young was still able to beat Championship leader Takayama in 3 of the 6 Super Special Stages on Day 2. Unfortunately, the time lost during the topple on Day 2 proved to be the decisive factor as Young despite his heroics on the final day, finished 3rd in the Rally and 2nd in the Asia Cup Category in the Chinese Rally. Japanese Driver Takayama who gained an advantage over Young in Malaysia where the EZY Racer did not complete the Rally having retired early on Day 1, was able to drive that advantage to a Championship leading position. "I gave my absolute best. We knew the retirement in Malaysia was going to be a tough one to catch up. We needed luck on our side. We did have it but i guess Takayama had it more than us. At the end of the day he drove exceptionally well to complete all the rallies." commented the Production Cup Champion.
With Mikes phenomenal performance, EZY Racing completed their second year in International Motor Sports on a high pedestal. "Last year, we knew we were not up there. We had to overcome the novelty of international circuits quickly and then settle into a defensive strategy. This year has been very different. With Mike and Cusco, we went out on the offensive from the first Rally in New Zealand. We have had a phenomenal season. 5 podiums out of 6 rallies is just mind blowing. They say fortune favours the brave. We made some brave decisions earlier this year and got into some partnerships with totally unknown territories. All that I can say today is that we worked on these partnerships and its given us success. we have a 100% podium ratio in every rally we have completed. Thats one feat thats very hard to achieve. We never would have been able to do this without Cusco who have continuously pushed to give us an amazing car. Mike’s determination to give us the best finish today speaks volumes of this little man with a big heart.
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His hands were so sore and swollen from driving 2 gruelling days without power steering. We take a lot of pride put in to this performance of ours. We are currently the 2nd Ranked Team in the Asia Pacific and the winner of the Production Cup ", said EZY Racing's founder, while reflecting on his team’s performance during the year.
The Asia Cup has one final round to be completed in India, which if competed would give Mike a the possibility of winning the Asia Cup Championship for his new team. With over 300,000 fans from across Asia, EZY Racing will be looking to end the 2015 Racing calendar on a strong footing. (Media Release)