Indian driver Gaurav Gill is the new Asia Pacific Rally Champion, 2013, and team trophy for Team MRF Skoda. Although he was crowned at the end of day one itself, the manufacturer’s and team trophy was sealed by the end of rally. Esapekka Lappi enjoyed his debut China Rally with a victory, and the top two finish in the team ensured the team & manufacturer’s title for Skoda Motorsport.
Gill‘s early crash during shakedown dreaded him and Team MRF about the consequences, but it was mostly cosmetic and went on to lead the rally in the early stages until a puncture put him down his team-mate.
Excited with the APRC-title Gill says, “This is definitely the high-light of my career so far, we’ve come close on several other occasions and this year wasn’t easy either. I have to thank the team, my co-driver Glenn (Macneall), Skoda and a big thank you to MRF tyres too as they’ve stuck with me all these years and so it’s nice to reward them and my country.” He also explained his mis-fortune of loosing the lead, “We stopped and changed it loosing 2-3 minutes, but the main thing is to get it the car back here.”
Excerpts from the Indian Rallying Facebook Group.
Shakedown crash or no shakedown crash, Gaurav Gill is the new Asia-Pacific champion after Michael Young was a no-show on the China Rally Longyou, which began with a 1.82-kilometre superspecial stage this afternoon.
Young, from New Zealand, was the only driver in with a shout of preventing Gill from taking the title, despite his front-wheel-drive Toyota Vitz giving away a stack of performance to Gill’s pacesetting Skoda Fabia Super 2000. But Young’s non-appearance means Indian driver Gill cannot be caught in the championship charge.
And Gill, 31, celebrated his triumph by setting the pace among the APRC contingent on the opening superspecial stage. He was 0.5s faster than Team MRF Skoda stablemate Esapekka Lappi – who along with Gill is one of two drivers eligible for APRC points in China – through the spectator test.
Gill follows 2012 champion Chris Atkinson’s lead by winning the APRC title for the MRF-backed Race Torque Engineering team.