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

Car India - - CONTENTS - Report: Har­ket Suchde Pho­tog­ra­phy: Škoda

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

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