Gaurav Gill has impressed many with his ability to adapt his driving style to suit the Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia. HT Photo/Vinayak Pande
The very thought of reminiscing on wasted opportunities is not the norm for racing/rally drivers and this is exactly the case with Gaurav Gill and the Chinese round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) in 2010.
Gill was second in the drivers' championship to MRF teammate Katsuhiko Taguchi by three points going into the rally, which was the final round of the season that year. When Taguchi crashed out, Gill needed to do no more than finish well enough to score four points to take the title. It seemed like a forgone conclusion for Gill to become the first Indian driver to win an FIA-sanctioned championship.
Gill too crashed out, however, and Taguchi claimed the title. "I don't even think about it," Gill told HT when asked about the missed opportunity. "I'm a professional sportsman and I just move on from things like this. There's no point digging up old graves."
With three full seasons of competing in the APRC under his belt, however, Team MRF boss Anthony Rodricks feels that Gill could be doing more to fulfill his true potential. "There is no doubt about his speed," said Rodricks. "But he needs to use his head a little bit more and not just rely on speed to win."
Time to deliver
Even three-time APRC champion and the 2002 Production class World Rally Champion Karamjit Singh believes it is time for Gill to deliver the goods. "Well he has been driving in the APRC for a while now," Singh told HT. "He needs to make less mistakes. It's good to be fast but you need to finish rallies in order to achieve good results."
Gill's third-place finish in the opening round of the championship this year should go some way to helping the Delhi-based driver deliver those results. "He (Gill) drove very well in this rally," said Rodricks.
"Considering that he is driving a car that is one step below a WRC car and that we only tested it once before this rally, he did very well."
Considering the calibre of drivers that Gill is up against this year, it remains to be seen if he can challenge for the title. His teammate has six WRC podiums and his rivals in the Proton team have 139 WRC starts between them.
An APRC title, or at least a strong challenge, in a field of drivers like this will go a long way in raising Gill's stock amongst the global rallying fraternity.
The writer's trip has been sponsored by MRF