Gaurav Gill wins the Asia Pacific Rally Championship 2017
Words by Shubham Choukse
Proving his mettle once again, Gaurav Gill (with co-driver Stephane Prevot) clinched the crown in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship. This is his third win in the APRC since 2013. Coming second was Gill’s teammate Ole Christian Veiby with co-driver Stig Rune Skjarmoen making this a 1-2 win for team MRF Skoda.
Organised by Motor Sports club of Chikmagalur, the Coffee Day India Rally was the fifth and the final round of the APRC 2017 season. The stage was set for an epic finale: as both the MRF Skoda drivers needed just one more win to bag the championship. However, all hopes for an epic fight between the MRF Skoda teammates disappeared in the second stage as Veiby had to face some serious with his Skoda Fabia R5. The problem with Veiby’s car was that the gearbox was stuck in the third gear due to which they spun several times in the race, but the mechanics managed to replace the gearbox in just around 20 minutes keeping the hopes for Veiby still alive. Nevertheless, Gill drove a good race and managed to finish 17 minutes and 38.4 seconds ahead of Veiby, thus winning the rally and the championship.
Reflecting on his victory and the third APRC title, Gill said, “Obviously, I am extremely pleased to win such a hard-fought championship. My satisfaction lies in the fact that I beat my teammate OC (Veiby) who is a World Championship driver and even won the round in Poland. More importantly, this victory is for Indian motorsport and it showed that India is capable of competing with the best talent in the World. For me personally, it satisfying to win three APRC titles despite the fact that I get to drive just five or six rounds in a year and not as much seat time in the rally car as my teammate. OC, for instance, is a factory test driver for Skoda and also participates in the World Championship besides other rallies. So, for me to beat him despite the odds I face, is especially satisfying.”
Gaurav had a tougher season this year, compared to the last. Last season, he managed to win every single round of the APRC, dominated the series and won the championship. This year, his teammate Veiby kept him on his toes by winning the Australia and Malaysia rallies and took the championship down to the wire.
Final results at the Coffee Day rally are as follows – Gaurav Gill with co-driver Stephane Prevot driving for the MRF Skoda team bagged the first position finishing the race in 3 hours, 20 minutes and 19.8 seconds. While Gill’s teammate Veiby with co-driver Stig Rune Skjarmoen came second finishing the race in 3 hours, 37 minutes and 58.2 seconds. And with a finishing time of 4 hours, 10 minutes and 17.4 seconds Shafraz Junaid from Sri-Lanka came third, he was driving a Volkswagen Polo.