India APRC: Gill holds sway in Chikmagalur
Team MRF’s Gaurav Gill (co-driver Stephane Prevot) led the Coffee Day India Rally after Saturday’s action.
After the 11 Special Stages run in the final round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship on the day, the two-time and defending champion recorded a total time of 2h24m22.2s.
PG Abhilash (Srikanth Gowda) was in the second place with a time of 2h39m43.2s, while Gill’s teammate Ole-Christian Veiby (Stig Rune Skjarmoen) was third with a time of 2h42m08.3s.
With the title to fight for, it was the vintage Gill who set the early pace. However, with Veiby’s Skoda Fabia R5’s gearbox breaking down in the very first stage of the day, it slowed him down quite a bit and that only helped Gill’s cause.
The native of Delhi won the first six stages on the day.
As of now, Gill is over 17 minutes ahead of Veiby after Saturday’s leg. That margin is certainly difficult for Veiby to catch and Gill could very well retain his APRC title.
Gill said: “It is a very difficult and long rally. Though I have a big lead, my aim is to bring the car home in one piece.
“Overall, I am pretty pleased with the car and especially the tyres, which have a new pattern. The tyres offered good grip and I could attack the corners with far more confidence,” he added.
Veiby’s car was fixed during the service break and he began to put on a heady pace. The determined Norwegian won the last five stages of the day and was clearly giving it all he has.
Veiby cut the eight-minute deficit to Abhilash at the half-way mark, to a little over two minutes at the end of the day.
“Somewhere in the day’s first stage today, I heard some noise and then lost drive on the front wheels. It was very difficult thereafter and worse still, my car was stuck in third gear. My co-driver had to use the handbrake for me. We spun a few times too,” said Veiby.
“This is rallying, but I feel the game is not over yet. Anything can happen as there is still a lot of driving left in this rally. Of course, I will push as hard as possible from now on.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Mike Young, driving the Volkswagen Polo, was forced to retire following a fuel leak and other mechanical issues.
Meanwhile, in the fourth round of the MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship that was run concurrently, Karna Kadur (Nikhil V Pai), in a Volkswagen Polo, emerged as the overall winner. Second was Dean Mascarenhas (Shruptha Padival) and Arjun Rao (Satish Rajagopal) came in third.
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