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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Gaurav Gill makes his mark in Rally of Turkey, but campaign ends in heartbreak

Going into the final day with a top-five finish firmly in sight, the JK Racing ace underlined his mettle by finishing second in the first stage of the day.

other-sports Updated: Sep 15, 2019 19:23 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
New Delhi
File image of Gaurav Gill.
File image of Gaurav Gill.(Getty Images)

India’s top rally driver Gaurav Gill won praise of his co-competitors by overcoming mechanical failures and a series of punctures before it ended in a heartbreak for him in the gruelling Rally of Turkey, the first event of the FIA World Rally Championship 2 on Sunday. Going into the final day with a top-five finish firmly in sight, the JK Racing ace underlined his mettle by finishing second in the first stage of the day. He continued in the same vein, taking the third place in the next stage too, demonstrating phenomenal speed and control to post spectacular timings to inch up the leader-board.

These results added up to a top-3 finish in five out of the nine stages that he had conquered without a hitch, not counting the shakedown in which he proved to be the fastest among the lot. In the penultimate stage with a strong finish beckoning him, disaster struck -- the transmission of the car seized and grounded him to a halt. The car locked up completely and could not be pushed into neutral, killing all chances of recouping and making up in the final stretch of the WRC.

“It was one of the toughest weekends, rather toughest rallies of my life. Right from the beginning, it was difficult to get into a good rhythm because the rally was so slow and twisty, with so many huge rocks and boulders around,” Gill said. “Of course I didn’t have much previous experience with the car and the setup, making it that much more difficult. The plan was to take one step at a time and it almost paid off. But we were marred by so many issues, including mechanical problems in the car. The good thing is we got some great timings and should keep us in a positive frame for the next round. “Almost all the top drivers congratulated me for the way I drove and handled the situations,” Gill added.

The Rally of Turkey lived up to its reputation of being the toughest in the world, pushing as many as 11 drivers to the brink and a DNF. Spread over four days, Gill had to cover a total distance of 988.50kms with 310.10kms earmarked for special stages. More tellingly, every stage was a test for the driver as well as the car, traversing past picturesque locales that could transform into death traps at the tiniest of errors.

The three-time APRC champion and Arjuna Awardee began his campaign on the world stage on a high note.

He faced major mechanical issues in four stages, starting with front suspension collapse to tear damper seizure to transmission failure. He even did a couple of stages with punctures. He left a lasting impression on the grid which will help boost his confidence for future international outings.

First Published: Sep 15, 2019 19:23 IST

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