Gaurav Gill clinched yet another top spot in the most recent round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), putting him in the driver’s seat for the championship victory, both literally and figuratively
Team MRF Škoda’s Gaurav Gill does seem to love driving in the APRC. The two-time champion won his first rally in this competition way back in 2008, and hasn’t looked back since. He’s well down the path towards his third Asia-Pacific Rally Championship title, and the latest round, the Rally Hokkaido, has helped him take one step closer to the winner’s trophy.
On a day when four of his competitors, including MRF Škoda team-mate Ole Christian Veiby, bowed out at the third stage, Gill drove flawlessly. This meant that the podium, Gill and codriver Stephan Prevot apart, had a decidedly different look. In second place and nearly 12 minutes behind was Robert Blomberg (Lars Andersson) of Mpart Mitsubishi Mirage. Third spot went to Fuyuhiko Takahashi (Mitsuo Nakamura) in their Subaru Impreza WRX, close to three and a half minutes behind Blomberg.
Speaking after the race, an ecstatic Gill said, “It has been a great day for us and Team MRF Škoda. We made a perfect tyre choice and a good car setup really paid off. The conditions were really rough with huge rocks and stones on the really fast stages sometimes averaging over 125 kilometres an hour.”
With Gill’s victory, Team MRF Škoda have already clinched the Manufacturers’ title for the 2017 APRC season, something that made Michal Hrabánek, the head honcho at Škoda Motorsport, a happy man: “The FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship is of major strategic significance to Škoda as the rallies are run in extremely important growing markets like India and China. I am happy to congratulate the MRF Škoda Team for prematurely securing the FIA APRC Cup for Manufacturers for Škoda. Since 2012 every title holder in this championship has driven a Škoda. This year again drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles will be decided only between the two MRF Škoda teams.”
With this landmark win, and subsequent 21-point lead over Veiby in the overall standings, Gill is perfectly poised to grasp the APRC title for a third time. Additionally, with the final round taking place on his home turf, here in India in the last week of November, he must be really liking his odds of victory.
( Left) Veiby had to bow out of the competition in stage three