Obihiro, Sep 29: India’s Gaurav Gill (co-driver Glenn MacNeall) of Team MRF Tyres, consolidated his position at the top of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship leaderboard with a commanding win in the Rally Hokkaido that concluded here Sunday.
Driving a Skoda Fabia S2000, Gill was virtually in cruise control as he nursed his overnight lead of over five minutes to move closer to clinching the APRC driver’s title while his nearest rival and team-mate Esapekka Lappi (Janne Ferme) from Finland retired Saturday with a broken strut.
The 31-year-old Delhi-based Gill clocked two hours, 26 minutes, 26.2 seconds, to take the top spot in the rally while Japan’s Yuya Sumiyama (Naoki Kase) of Cusco Racing in a Subaru Impreza was overall second behind the Indian in 2:32:19.5.
It was Gill’s second victory of the season following his success in the second round in New Caledonia and his maiden success in Japan where he had retired in the previous two outings.
“It’s been a really tough weekend. A very long, hard rally and it’s not been easy at all. So we’re relieved to win today. We started off with a good battle with Lappi, but then he had some problems so we were left with the advantage.”
“Today, we had to play smart, keep out of trouble and thankfully it paid off in the end. We were cruising this morning, but I think we actually drove too slowly. These cars can be more difficult to drive when you’re not on the limit because there isn’t much traction,” Gill said.
“So we needed to up the pace to ensure we finished with no dramas. We’re just happy to have made it to the end in one piece and with more points for the championship,” said Gill.
The APRC heads to China for the concluding round of the series scheduled for Nov 2-3 with Gill looking certain to annex the driver’s title while Lappi is effectively out of reckoning for the top spot.