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MRF Tyres ranks highest in the J.D. Power Asia Pacific Customer Satisfaction Survey 2003.

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The Rally of Thailand in Rayong, October 31-November 2,2003, that also doubled up as the Round 4 of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, saw MRF Limited, the Indian tyre giant optimistic on two fronts. Their lead driver, Armin Kremer (co-driver Fred Berssen) took the Group N title while finishing second in overall classification, while MRF came up with a winning set of tyres that were developed in a record twelve days and played a major role in their success at Rayong. Kremer, driving a Group N (unmodified) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7, picked up the full quota of 19 points (10 for win and nine bonus) at Rayong with some brilliant driving that saw him outpace quicker Group A (modified) cars.

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The result not only underlined his growing stature in conditions he was not familiar to begin with, but also positioned himself well for the final round at Pune, India, where the fifth and final round (MRF India Rally) will be run on December 5-7,2003. At Rayong, Kremer finished Overall second, behind Malaysia's 2002 APRC champion Karamjit Singh (co-driver Allen Oh), who were in a Group A Proton Pert and scored their first win in the 2003 series. Importantly, Kremer finished ahead of New Zealand's Geoff Argyle (co-driver Chris Smith) who drove a Group A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.

As well as he drove in Rayong; Kremer was quick to attribute his success to the MRF tyres. "It's been a strong and difficult race. I'm very happy with the result. The new MRF dirt tyres have worked wonderfully and the car on the whole - the suspension, the differential, the engine, everything worked brilliantly throughout the rally. I'm looking forward to the MRF India Rally, and if I do well there, I could have a shot at the overall APRC title," he said. For the Thailand round, 56 asymmetric, dirt, tyres in size 205/65R15 ZDM3 and 20 mud tyres in size 205/65 R15 ZWM2, meant for rain and slushy conditions were air freighted to Bangkok. The mud tyres had two different constructions and made from brand new moulds that were fabricated by MRF in a record 12 days! Moulds generally take several months to develop and MRF's technical engineers literally worked round the clock to have these tyres ready.

The final day was a brilliant one for Kremer, with the only problem being a lost rear wing aerofoil on the first stage. For Nutahara, it was not the best of outings, he could not find the pace required to get ahead of Kremer and had to be content with a third place finish in Group N, behind his Advan-PIAA team-mate Katsuhiko Taguchi (co-driver Mark Stacey) and overall fifth. The second Team MRF Tyres entry David Doppelreiter of Austria (co driver Ola Floene of Norway) lost an excellent chance to finish third in Group N when he retired due to a broken drive shaft on the final Special Stage. Nevertheless, Doppelreiter put in an improved performance overall and was up there among the front-runners with consistently quick timings that reflected signs of him settling down in the series.

The Results (after Round 4)
Points standings : Group N Overall Standings
Name Standings
Kremer/Berssen 66
Nutahara/Hayashi 54
Name Team Standings
Geof Argyle/Steve Smith Racetech 46
Armin Kremer/Fred Berssen Team MRF Tyres 42
Furnio Nutahara/Satoshi Hayashi - 37