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New Zealand APRC: Veiby leads Gill after first leg

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New Zealand APRC: Veiby leads Gill after first leg
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Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby led defending champion and MRF teammate Gaurav Gill in the first leg of APRC Rally Whangarei in New Zealand.

Gaurav Gill, Stéphane Prévot, Skoda Fabia R5, Team MRF
Gaurav Gill, Stéphane Prévot, Skoda Fabia R5, Team MRF
Gaurav Gill, Stéphane Prévot, Skoda Fabia R5, Team MRF
Gaurav Gill, Stéphane Prévot, Skoda Fabia R5, Team MRF
Gaurav Gill, Stéphane Prévot, Skoda Fabia R5, Team MRF
Ole Christian Veiby, Stig Rune Skjærmoen, Skoda Fabia R5, Team MRF
Ole Christian Veiby, Stig Rune Skjærmoen, Skoda Fabia R5, Team MRF
Ole Christian Veiby, Stig Rune Skjærmoen, Skoda Fabia R5, Team MRF
Ole Christian Veiby, Stig Rune Skjærmoen, Skoda Fabia R5, Team MRF

Spread over two days, Leg 1 comprised of 10 stages with a total competitive distance of 154 km. All stages went according to schedule apart from SS8, which was cancelled due to poor weather.

Gill laid the early marker by topping Friday’s two special stages, but his lead was immediately overturned by Veiby with victory in a wet SS3 on Saturday.

Gill fought back by winning the next three stages to take a marginal lead in the standings, but the Norwegian reasserted his authority by claiming the final three stages of the day.

The 20-year-old holds an advantage off 33.2s heading into Sunday’s Leg 2.

"We started with our own pace this morning in the first loop, to check in against everyone else. The afternoon we increased our pace and felt comfortable we could push a bit more," he said.

"It's not a maximum attack but I tried to take some time in the first stage after the morning service because we did that first up. The stage after that I felt I did well and it seems like it was a good time compared to Gaurav."

Gill, who's day was compromised by an issue with front dampers said: “It has been a long day and I think we have some issues with the front dampers and maybe the rear differential too.

"The front dampers mean we can’t get the tyres to work like they should so obviously I can’t go as fast as I would like to. We have had good speed and I have enjoyed the stages

Someway behind the leading Skoda Fabia R5s, former WRC driver Jari Ketomaa secured the third spot in his Mpart-run Mitsubishi Mirage AP4.

Robert Blomberg was fourth in the sister Mpart entry, but over 11 mins down on Veiby’s chart-topping time.

Japan’s Fuyuhiko Takahashi was classified fifth in his Subaru Impreza WRX STi, while India’s PG Abhilash was classified sixth on his APRC debut.

Leg 1 Results:

Pos

Driver

Car

Time/Gap

1

 Ole Christian Veiby

 Stig Rune Skjarmoen

Skoda

1hr31m33.8s

2

 Gaurav Gill

 Stephane Prevot

Skoda

33.2s

3

 Jari Ketomaa

 Ville Mannisenmaki

Mitsubishi

2m15.7s

4

 Robert Blomberg

 Lars Andersson

Mitsubishi

11m08.3s

5

 Fuyuhiko Takahashi

 Mitsuo Nakamura

Subaru

16m33.1s

6

 PG Abhilash

 Srikanth Gowda

Subaru

20m45.6s

Gill chasing third APRC title despite more competition

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