Gaurav Gill is holding a 49.6 second lead over former Production car World Rally Champion Toshihiro Arai after the first day of Rally Hokkaido, the fifth round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
Driving a Super 2000-spec Skoda Fabia for Team MRF, Gill will have seven more stages to negotiate on Sunday before the end of the rally.
Gill had been disqualified at the end of last year’s event after over an alleged technical infraction that cost him victory in the event.
Flying the flag
Gill is driving Team MRF’s sole Fabia after teammate Chris Atkinson’s decision to compete in the World Rally Championship round in Great Britain instead of competing in Rally Hokkaido.
Atkinson, a former works driver with Subaru, holds an seemingly unassailable lead in the drivers’ championship over Proton’s defending champion Alister McRae.
Atkinson leads by 45 points over the Scot.
Gill started the 2012 campaign with a third place in the opening round in New Zealand followed by a win in the second round at New Caledonia.
Since the win, however, Gill has suffered two straight retirements and currently lies fourth in the standings ahead of former two-time Junior World Rally Champion Per-Gunnar Andersson.