Puncture and odd style but Gill still in the hunt
In the season's first APRC race at New Zealand, a determined Gill finished third after only a few weeks of training. Sharmistha Chaudhuri reports.Updated: Apr 28, 2012 13:06 IST
The first thing one is struck by when meandering down the hilly roads from Tontua airport to the main city is - getting into the passenger seat but from the right-hand side!
"Can you imagine then how hard it would be to drive on the left? Almost as hard as writing with the left hand," joked Team MRF's Gaurav Gill.
But, the transition from the right to left seems to be suiting the Delhi driver just fine as he clocked 28.01.1s after the fourth stage of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship of Rallye de Nouvelle-Calédonie on Friday. After driving 51 kilometres with navigator Glenn MacNeall and puncturing a tyre on stage 2, Gill still managed to end the first day's proceedings at third, a minute behind teammate Chris Atkinson (26:56.2). PG Andersson of Proton Motorsports is currently in lead clocking 26:52.9s.
To prepare for the left hand drive, Gill has the help of an 18-year-old Mercedes sedan. "After months of searching, I found an old Merc which I'm putting back together. I usually take the car out on the Delhi streets a few days before a rally just to get used to it. I'm slowly getting the hang of it now," he added.
Left-hand drive is the accepted international standard and to get better, it was the only way out for Gill. In the season's first APRC race at New Zealand, a determined Gill finished third after only a few weeks of training.
"It's a tough race and we have all the top guys competing here. Most of them participate in over 15 rallies a year while I only do six. So, to be able to match them so far has been great."
Of the four stages, the highlight of the day was most definitely the super-special and the drivers gave the crowd a Friday night to remember.
(The writer's trip has been sponsored by MRF)
First Published: Apr 28, 2012 00:38 IST