Gaurav Gill returned to the World Rally Championship 2 (WRC2), making his first series appearance at the Rally of Turkey over the weekend. However, it ended up being a far from perfect start to his 2019 WRC2 campaign. Despite a promising pace, his run was marred by mechanical failures and a series of punctures, and he ultimately had to retire from the rally.
Gill’s woes started before the rally kicked off. Since the vessel carrying his M-Sport-developed Ford Fiesta R5 docked in late, he was left with little time to truly test the car. Nevertheless, he set the fastest time in the shakedown and by the end of the second stage, he stood 3rd overall. He lost a chunk of time after suffering a tyre puncture on the next stage, but managed to recover in the 4th stage to remain just 4min adrift of the leader. He enjoyed a good start in the 5th stage, but was then hit by bad luck when his Fiesta suffered front-left suspension damage, forcing him to retire.
The three-time Asia Pacific Rally Champion and Arjuna Award winner re-joined the rally the next day under the Rally 2 rules after taking a penalty for the three stages he’d missed. He got off to a slow start but started finding his groove as the day progressed. A series of quick stage runs saw him claw back some lost time and by the end of the 12th stage, he was inching closer to a top-five finish.
Gill continued showing impressive pace on the final day as well, finishing the first two stages of the day in 2nd and 3rd place, respectively. Just when it looked like he was poised for a strong finish, his car suffered yet another mechanical issue. This time around, the transmission seized, leaving Gill unable to complete the final stretch of the rally.
Despite his Rally of Turkey outing not going as per plan, Gill continues to remain positive for future outings. “It was one of the toughest weekends, rather the 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,” he said.
“I, of course, 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 that 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.”
Gaurav Gill to compete in WRC2 Rally of Turkey
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