Gaurav Gill of Team MRF wins Rally Hokkaido as APRC title race heats up

With the victory at Rally Hokkaido in Japan, Gaurav Gill of Team MRF SKoda leads the 2017 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) standings with 135 points, 20 ahead of Ole Christian Veiby from Norway in second place with just one round to go

other sports Updated: Sep 18, 2017 14:35 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Gaurav Gill,Team MRF,Team MRF Skoda
Gaurav Gill (right) of Team MRF Skoda, celebrate with co-driver co-driver Stephane Prevot (Belgium) at the podium of Rally Hokkaido in Japan -- the penultimate round of the 2017 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC)(HT Photo)

Gaurav Gill of Team MRF Skoda won the 2017 Rally of Hokkaido in Japan on Sunday to take the lead in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) title standings ahead of the final round to be held in India, late November.

The highly technical Rally Hokkaido brought the best out of Gill even as the Indian’s main rivals -- including his MRF team-mate Ole Christian Veiby from Norway -- retired on Stage 3 of the event Saturday .

Gill, with co-driver Stephane Prevot (Belgium), completed both the days with ease, steering clear of trouble despite being on full throttle.

“ Its been a perfect weekend, getting maximum points,” said Gill, just before the podium ceremony. “Most importantly, I’m back in the championship lead and the last round is in India, my home country. Japan, as always, is difficult with such high speeds and rough roads. However, we had the perfect tyre choice and the perfect car from our team MRF Skoda. Would have been good to have OC (Ole Christian Veiby ) in the fight but unfortunately he went off yesterday.”

Gill now has 135 points while Veiby has 115. Robert Blomberg of Sweden (co-driver Lars Andersson in the Mitsubishi Mirage) is third in the championship standings with 68 points.

Arriving in Hokkaido, Veiby led the championship but his off road excursion on Day 1 means the title will now be decided in India.

“Saturday was a big disappointment we had some problems with a damper, after that we went a little bit off and we got stuck,” said the Norwegian driver. “Today (Sunday) was really good and I think we got some good points. The championship is still on and its going to be a very exciting rally in India”, said Veiby at final service.

For the record, Gill won the APRC class in Rally Hokkaido by a time of 1 hour, 53 mins, 21.8. Mpart’s Blomberg (co-driver Lars Andersson) finished second, 11 minutes, 41.4 seconds off Gill. Fuyuhiko Takahashi (co-driver Mitsuo Nakamura) in a Subaru Impreza finished third (APRC class).

The title fight goes into the final rally of the 2017 season -- Rally of India -- to be held from November 24-26 in Chikmagalur, Karnataka.​

First Published: Sep 18, 2017 14:21 IST