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Team MRF gets it right... again

Team MRF couldn't have asked for a better start to their Asia Pacific Rally Championship campaign this year, for their drivers —Katsu Taguchi and Gaurav Gill — made a podium finish for the second time in a row.

india Updated: May 24, 2010 00:05 IST
Anam Arsalan

Team MRF couldn't have asked for a better start to their Asia Pacific Rally Championship campaign this year, for their drivers —Katsu Taguchi and Gaurav Gill — made a podium finish for the second time in a row.

After, claiming top honours in the first leg at Johan Bahru, they ended up clinching the first and the third spot at the Rally Hokkaido, here on Sunday. But, it wasn't the the Day One leader Gill, but Katsu Taguchi, who claimed the top spot with a time of 2:08:26.3 on Sunday.

After starting the day with a lead of 5.1 seconds at the beginning of stage 12 — Otofuke (Sinotcaki) 1, Gill ended up losing points with time.

"We had a small problem in the second stage of the race where we hit a small pole which bent our wheel. However, the next section (stage 14) was so rough that it completely broke our suspension arm. Our brakes too failed after the bent wheel cut the car's cables," said the driver, giving out the reason for losing precious seconds.

Soon teammate and rival Katsu Taguchi, who on Saturday was tailing Gill, managed to overtake him. Taguchi ended stage 14 with a time of 1:49:03.8, 1.3 seconds ahead of Gill. But, his misery was far from over.

Soon Cusco Racing driver Hiroshi Yanagisawa too managed to push him behind. Stage 15 —Otofuke (Sinotcaki) 2 —saw the Gill fall to third position, and the gap between him and the leader in Taguchi , widened further. With just three stages to go for finish, Gill tried hard to retain the place and was able to keep the pace.

Gill ended the day with 2:10:29.8 on board. His teammate , Taguchi praised the effort saying, "Everybody was going flat out today as things were so close. I thought we would not be able to catch him, but he had some bad luck and it gave me a real chance."

On his plans for the season Taguchi said, "I would like to win the championship with Gaurav alongside."

The APRC now moves to New Zealand for the third leg in July, where the Protons will be the competitors to beat. "With much smoother roads there, the Protons may do well. Their car is best suited to those conditions and they are very fast," said Taguchi.