Team MRF's Gaurav Gill had enough reason to cheer on the first day of the second leg of the APRC Rally Hokkaido as he finished the day as clear leader.
A good 5.1 seconds over the rest of the pack after eleven thrilling stages have ensured him of a good finish provided everything goes well for on Sunday.
In fact, at one stage Gill had a comfortable 27.8s lead but for the front-wheel drive shaft that gave way at the start of the 10th stage. As a result, he ended up losing 15 seconds in that stage and the lead got chipped down further by seven seconds in the final stage of the day.
'Such things happen, it's a rally, you can't help it. I am still the leader, though,' said Gill after the end of the day.
However, he was still lucky, for the Protons — billed as the favourites — couldn't even manage to finish the first day.
The team's experienced driver Chris Atkinson met with engine trouble on stage five and couldn't carry on further. The other driver, Alister McRae, met the same fate in the next stage and his car too was carried out to the service park on a truck.
However, both drivers are expected to hit the track Sunday morning. But, their hopes of making a good finish are done for. Now, both will be aiming to garner as many points as possible from the second day.
Meanwhile, Gill's teammate and competitor Katsu Taguchi is still in the hunt for the Rally Hokkaido title with a second place finish, fuelling hopes of another one-two finish for the MRF team after taking top honours in Johar Bahru last month.