Gaurav Gill, India's most established rally driver, who continued his domination in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) last year, looks to do the same as the season begins with the Rally Whangarei in New Zealand on May 18-19.
Gill will now have full-fledged factory support as he drives for the newly-formed Skoda-MRF team. Last year, Skoda won both the manufacturers and drivers' titles in their APRC debut. This year, Gill leads the charge for them alongside Finnish Esapekka Lappi.
"This is another positive step in my career. It obviously helps to have the entire factory support. There is a little more responsibility. Skoda are a big brand. I need to be smarter. The results will mean a lot more now since I will be working with manufacturers. There will be more of global presence since Skoda are also active in the World Rally Championship (WRC). Though I won't be actively involved with the WRC team, I could be called for any development work," Gill told HT while interacting with young Volkswagen Polo Cup drivers on Saturday.
For Gill, the aim is to land a permanent seat in the WRC. "My performances in APRC have always been great. I have been faster than most of the top WRC drivers in the last few years (who competed in APRC and other events). When the Skoda engineers came to watch us (Team MRF) during last year's final race in China, they saw my speeds and felt that I would be a good fit in their new partnership (with MRF). Now, I hope to impress them and land a seat in WRC. I am only halfway where I want to be in my career," he said.
Gill felt he was ready for the upgrade to WRC. "It will take me a little time to acclimatise, but I have driven on most of the circuits used for WRC. In terms of skill, I am ready for WRC. A lot of credit goes to MRF for the work they have done for my development and the Indian rally circuit."