Indian rallying has now become the domain of one man. It appears that it is no longer about just how well a particular driver is doing on a given day; instead it seems to hinge on how badly Gaurav Gill deigns to maul the timings.
Going into Day 3 with an overwhelming two-minute-23-second lead with just a 2.25 km special spectator stage left to complete, Gill is going to run away with this rally unless his car plays truant.
Of the nine competitive stages so far, Gill has comprehensively dominated six. The three that he lost out were by the margin of fractions of a second. Gill has notched two Asia Pacific Rally podiums with Team MRF and that level of rallying with the far-more powerful cars has made him a different speed animal.
“It makes you a smarter driver and it makes you understand that there is just no margin for error,” says Gill. “If there are, say, 200 corners in a 25-km stage, you have to get them all spot on and that too while going flat out. That makes for a different kind of discipline.”
These rally fellows, anyway, drive blind. They depend upon the navigator in the passenger seat to call out a set of instructions before each corner, each bump and every straight. In winding terrain like the Sahayadri hills, where this rally is being held, a call will come almost every 50 meters.
“I dictate my own pace notes during the recce to the navigator and as such I am 100% sure when I have to take a blind corner even at 130km without lifting off the accelerator,” reveals Gill. “Most others rely on their co-drivers totally and that way they can never be as sure as I am about the calls.”
Vikram Mathias trails Gill by 2.23 seconds while Amittrajit Ghosh is three minutes 42 seconds behind.