It was almost a case of double jeopardy for team MRF. From race leaders in the morning session, the team came close to losing both their cars by the noon in the Malaysian Rally, the fourth round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, in Johor Bahru on Saturday.
Gaurav Gill crashed during stage 3, while leading the race. Teammate Esapekka Lappi retired from the afternoon session and subsequently the rally due to engine trouble. The scenario meant that the team, which was looking to seal the team championships this weekend, could return empty-handed.
There was some good news for the team towards the end of the day. The damage to Gill’s car was found to be minimal and he will be able to continue on Sunday. He will now be fighting for the crucial seven championship points, which will put him in the lead for the drivers’ title.
Gill had opened up a lead of 1:01.9s over second-placed Lappi by the end of stage 2 But during the pre-stage recce, an error in his pace notes sent Gill straight over an embankment damaging the radiator. “We knew that we could seal it, if we drove fast in the first stage and we pushed ourselves hard. We ended up with a lead of more 58 seconds,” Gill said. “We miscalculated our pace notes for the third stage. During recon, we drove in a convoy but our pace note apparently had an error and it didn’t register correctly on a particular turn. I went off the road. The car went over the embankment leading to radiator damage,” Gill said.
Gill, currently third in the drivers’ standings with 71.5 points, now has a chance of catching Lappi (78 points).
The writer’s trip has been sponsored by MRF