Longyou (China), Nov 3: India’s Gaurav Gill, driving a Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia S2000 for Team MRF, emerged champion in the 2013 Asia Pacific Rally Championship despite finishing second to team-mate Esapekka Lappi in the Rally China that concluded here Sunday.
The second place finish earned the 31-year old, Delhi-based Gill, in his seventh APRC season, 28 points that took his tally to 145.5 in the six-round championship. It was also the first time that Gill finished Rally China in five attempts.
Gill’s navigator Glenn Macneall from New Zealand took the co-driver’s title while Team MRF swept the APRC Team trophy with 261.5 points.
Finland’s Lappi with Janne Ferm as his co-driver, finished second in the driver’s championship with 117 points, 13 ahead of India’s Sanjay Takale (Sean Gregory), the Production class champion, who opted out of Rally China.
“It is an amazing feeling and the biggest triumph of my career. We have been trying to make this happen for the past few years, but we have always had some issue or the other every time.
“But, this year has been good. We have had Skoda with our MRF team and perfect tyres that MRF made for us. I am really excited, not just for me, but for the whole team.
“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,” said Gill who did well to shrug off a crash on Friday during the shakedown.”
Gill, winner in New Caledonia and Japan, besides second place finishes in New Zealand and here, had a trouble-free run except for a puncture Saturday during the afternoon loop that cost him precious time.
In fact, the 10 leg points he picked up on the first day, effectively sealed his championship win, rendering Sunday’s run an academic interest.
AKODA Motorsport’s Pavel Hortek said: “We’re really happy. We fulfilled what we planned to do at the beginning of the season, to again win all the championships in both categories.
“My thanks to the winning crew of Gaurav Gill and Glenn Macneall; this is very important for them, especially for Gaurav who deserves to finally win the APRC after trying for so many years.”