Reigning APRC Champion and Team MRF Skoda driver Gaurav Gill made a stunning comeback to beat overnight leader and team-mate Jan Kopecký to win the Rally of Whangarei, the opening round of the 2014 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
India’s Gaurav Gill and Australian based co-driver Glenn Macneall clean swept Sunday's six special stages snatching victory from overnight leader and team mate Jan Kopecký. Starting behind Kopecký for the day of double run stages, Gill was in a closely fought battle for stage honours, until the 32-year-old found advantage on the 27.43km Springfield test. Pulling out a time 25 seconds faster than his rival was all Gill needed to put his MRF Tyres team mate behind him for the run to the finish.
Gaurav Gill was ecstatic to win his first ever rally in Whangarei after missing out in the last couple of years. He commented, “We’ve come close to winning here before but every year we’ve had some issue either technical or mechanical. This time it was the best way to win – to come from the back, especially being down by 23 seconds – it was a massive amount of time to make up in this situation"
In the sister MRF Tyres ŠKODA Fabia S2000 car Czech Republic based Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dresler took consolation in his placing. The first time the 32-year-old has been to New Zealand, it was also his first time in the car and using the Indian manufactured tyres.
“We had a really good fight all weekend so thanks a lot to Gaurav for that because you need to be pushed by an opponent to be able to improve. I don’t have so much experience at these gravel rallies and it being the first time for me to compete so far away from home so we are happy with the result", remarked Kopecky.
Results: APRC Rally of Whangarei
1. Gaurav Gill/Glenn Macneall - 2:11:39.7
2. Jan Kopecky/Pavel Dresler - 2:11:51.7
3. Mark Pedder/Claire Dowling - 2:20:02.3