UPDATE: The 2019 Rally of Australia has been cancelled because of the ongoing bushfires affecting much of northern New South Wales (NSW) close to the rally’s Coffs Harbour base.
Indian Rally ace Gaurav Gill has confirmed that he will be participating in the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) – the 2019 Rally of Australia – this weekend. This will be Gill’s second WRC2 outing this year and will also mark his return to professional rallying, following the tragic incident at the 2019 Indian National Rally Championship’s (INRC) third round in Jodhpur in September. After taking into consideration all the facts surrounding the incident, a Jodhpur Court has since granted Gill bail pending trial.
This won’t be the first time that Gill will be participating in Rally of Australia. He’d taken part in the event last year too and despite retiring on day two, he’d enjoyed a strong run, setting the fastest WRC2 stage time in a total of 11 stages. But since Gill was participating in the championship last year as an unregistered entry, owing to the fact that his car’s MRF tyres weren’t homologated for development purposes, his stage wins were not recorded under the WRC2 category, instead showing up under the Regional Classification 2 (RC2) class.
However, the Arjuna awardee will be participating in the event this year as a registered driver, and going by his past form, is hoping to bag a strong result this time around. “I have had very good testing here over the last few days. I have made a lot of changes to the chassis and the handling of the car, and I have a good feeling about the new car. I can’t wait to start the rally, since I’ve been here and have had top times in the past, I’m confident of a positive result too,” he said.
Earlier this year, Gill had made his first WRC2 appearance of the season at the Rally of Turkey, driving an M-Sport-developed Ford Fiesta R5. But despite showing some promising pace early on, he run was marred by mechanical failures and a series of punctures, and he ultimately had to retire from the rally.
Back home, Gill is slated to participate in the fourth round of the INRC, the K1000 Rally in Bengaluru, on November 22-24, 2019. His team, Mahindra Adventure, had earlier decided to pull out of the remainder of the 2019 INRC, following the incident in Jodhpur and the manner in which it was handled by the organisers and the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI). However, instead of skipping the final rounds, the management decided that Mahindra Adventure would resume its INRC campaign and work towards generating awareness about safety in motorsport.