Reigning APRC Champion Gaurav Gill put in a blistering performance at the Rally Hokkaido before an accident caused extensive damage to his car in the penultimate round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
Any chance of retaining the Asia Pacific Rally Championship that Gill won in 2013 now appears to be remote, although the Team MRF Tyres are working to get the car repaired in time to restart tomorrow. With Gill’s retirement, Gill's MRF teammate Jan Kopecky took over the lead of APRC Rally Hokkaido, 25 seconds ahead of Japan’s Toshi Arai.
After seven stages and 70 kilometers of flat out competition, MRF Skoda driver Gaurav Gill from India led the 2014 APRC Rally of Hokkaido. Through the first morning of competition Gill built a steady lead on his team-mate Jan Kopecky, arriving at the first break confident he had the right strategy.
Unfortunately for Gill on stage 8 Yam Wakka, a high speed crash ended his rally.
Gill commented “I was a little surprised this morning that Jan was faster than me on the first stage, but after that I dug in and put in some good (stages) times to take the lead. We’re not pushing, looking after the car is really important here. It's a shame what happened as the car felt really good this weekend.”
Kopecky, who started the Rally with an 8 point lead is looking to finish the race tomorrow after seeing his main competitor go out. “It’s unfortunate what happened to Gaurav, we were having a good battle but these roads are very unforgiving. Our plan today was to keep the same safe pace especially through the long stages".
"Tomorrow the stages are very tricky, very difficult and are different from today, so hopefully we can keep our position and bring the car back to the finish. We must finish tomorrow as this will win for the MRF team, the APRC Manufacturer’s award”.