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Gaurav Gill clinches 3rd Asia-Pacific Rally Championship crown

Gaurav Gill won his 3rd Asia-Pacific Rally Championship crown on Sunday.

other sports Updated: Nov 26, 2017 19:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chikkamagaluru
Gaurav Gill,Asia-Pacific Rally Championship,rally
India’s Gaurav Gill (R) and co-driver Stephane Prevot from Belgium with the FIA APRC trophy.(HT Photo)

Veteran Indian racer Gaurav Gill came up with another mature drive to retain the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) title, his third since 2013, as he led another 1-2 Team MRF sweep in the Coffee Day India Rally 2017 ahead of teammate Ole Christian Veiby from Norway by 17 minutes and 38.4 seconds here on Sunday.

Going into the rally, which doubled up as the fifth and concluding round of the 2017 APRC, the 35-year-old Gill and Belgian co-driver Stephane Prevot led Veiby (Stig Rune Skjarmoen) by six points with both requiring a win to clinch the title. With the 21-year-old Norwegian suffering mechanical problems on Friday and losing time, Gill cruised to another fine win.

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The victory was worth 38 points which took Gill’s tally to 174 while Veiby finished on 160. While the Indian won three of the five rounds, Veiby triumphed in the other two as MRF Tyres bagged the team championship while Skoda yet again took the manufacturers’ trophy. It was also Gill’s 17th win in APRC since his debut in 2008.

Enjoying a commanding 15-minute lead overnight, Gill did not feel the need to push hard and yet won one of the day’s four Special Stages as Veiby continued his charge to move from third to second.

Meanwhile, Abhilash PG, having completed all the stages in third place today, retired during the transport run due to mechanical problems to finish fourth, thus promoting Sri Lankan Shafraz Junaid (Akhry Ameer) to third.

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Reflecting on his victory and the third APRC title, Gill said: “I am extremely pleased to win such a hard-fought championship. My satisfaction lies in the fact that I beat my teammate OC (Veiby) who is a World Championship driver and even won the round in Poland. More importantly, this victory is for Indian motorsport and it showed that India is capable of competing with the best talent in the world.

“For me personally, it satisfying to win three APRC titles despite the fact that I get to drive just 5-6 rounds a year and not as much seat time in the rally car as my teammate. OC, for instance, is a factory test driver for Skoda and also participates in the World Championship besides other rallies. So for me to beat him despite the odds I face, is especially satisfying.

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“Looking ahead, I have done enough to show that I have the pace and ability to compete at the world level as my first APRC title in 2013 was against my then teammate Esapekka Lappi from Finland who today is a regular in the World Championship with several wins. At the moment, I accept what is on offer without thinking too much about what is in store for me in my rallying career.”

First Published: Nov 26, 2017 19:00 IST