Maturity will be the key for Gill | india | Hindustan Times
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Maturity will be the key for Gill

Reigning national champion Gaurav Gill has to take a giant leap in the span of a week. He was overwhelmingly dominant in the Nashik leg of the Speed Indian National Rally Championship last Friday.

india Updated: Jul 02, 2010 23:38 IST
Sukhwant Basra

Reigning national champion Gaurav Gill has to take a giant leap in the span of a week. He was overwhelmingly dominant in the Nashik leg of the Speed Indian National Rally Championship last Friday. But now, the very next Friday, in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship he is on an altogther new canvas. Here the cars are bigger -- both in engine and in cornering speed and grip given the four-wheel drive -- and the terrain is real tricky.Packed gravel plays hide and seek with slush as the sun goes peek a boo with rain. Painting the podium in his colours isn't going to be easy.

Second overall after two podium finishes in the last two legs in Malaysia and Japan, Gill goes into the Rally of Whangarei in the North Island of New Zealand with justified confidence, but he goes in wary.

“The local drivers know the stages well and have the advantage. For me there is really no choice but to go flat-out,” says Gill.

For the last three years that this rally has been held in this part of the world, two Kiwis have split the title.

Hayden Paddon is just 23, but has already won here twice -- a feat that contributed to his being picked up by Pirelli for a sponsored drive. Former APRC winner Katsuhiko Taguchi and WRC drivers Chris Atkinson and Alister McRae, with their lighter and more advanced Proton Satria cars, will make the going all the tougher for Gill who's in the far-heavier Mitsubishi Evo X.

The stages run on hilly terrain with half-km long straights interspersed with tight twisty corners. That translates into Gill's co-driver Glenn Macneall hurtling in the vicinity of 700 instruction calls in the span of the 34-km first stage. Championship leader and the other Team MRF driver Taguchi believes, “If I stay on the road, the position will follow. The important thing is to stay on the road.”

By leading the two rounds of the 1.5 km warmup run he did on Thursday, Gill has already asserted his intention of going for broke. As to whether he has matured enough to not break his car in the process, is the big ask. And, as Taguchi pointed out, staying on the road is a big factor.