On Sunday, Gaurav Gill drove into the sporting history of India, becoming the first Indian ever to win the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship Round at the Gudang Garam International Rally Indonesia 2008.
The tough Indian, along with his Malaysian co-driver Jagdish Singh, showed tremendous control over his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, and clocked 3:3:23.9 seconds to outrace the more fancied Katsuhiko Taguchi and Mark Stacey, the Australian, who clocked 3:4:30.8 to finish second.
The eventual champion had a significant 17-second lead over his nearest rival at the start of the race on Sunday morning. He lost four and another one more second in the sixth and seventh stage, respectively, opening a window of opportunity for his rivals to speed past them.
But that turned out the only hiccup in his pursuit of victory, as, thereafter, he gave no chance whatsoever to his opponents to catch up with them. Gill displayed a steely resolve in holding on to his lead on what was a trying and bumpy
track, engulfed by dust and full of stones, to carve out a magnificent triumph.
“It’s a dream come true. I had always wanted to win here, and I am glad I could pull it off amidst such a tough competition,” said an elated Gill. “It was a tough race as it’s damn hot out there. We felt thirsty right through the race, but somehow we managed to keep ourselves focussed and drove ourselves on to the podium,” he said.
Gill was especially delighted with the fact that he outraced favourites like Katusuhiko Taguchi and Crocker to win the race. “The competition was indeed very tough, but thankfully we didn’t face any technical glitches, which helped us big time,” he said.
The champion also showered rich praise on co-driver. “Jagdev has been a great help.”
FINAL POSITIONS: 1. Gaurav Gill/ Jagdev Singh (Ind/Mal) 3:3:23.9; 2. Katsuhiko Taguchi/Mark Stacey (Aus) 3:4:30.8; 3. Cody Crocker/Ben Atkinson (Aus) 3:5:47.6; 4. Rifat Sungkar/Bill Hayes (Ri/Aus) 3:8:44.8; 5. Subhan Aksa/Hade Mboi (Ri) 3:11:19.7; 6. Akbar Hadianto/Arianto Sjarief (Ri) 3:13:37.0; 7. Ricardo Gelael/Tony Sircombe (Ri/Nz) 3:17:32.5.