Johor Bahru, October 27: Team MRF’s Gaurav Gill is just one win away from regaining the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship crown as he heads into this weekend’s Malaysian Rally here, the fifth and penultimate round of the series
The Rally, which begins on Saturday after Friday night’s ceremonial flag-off in the city, comprises 14 Special Stages covering about 227 Kms. The competitors will cover a total of 572 kms during the course of the event.
After winning all the four rounds this season in New Zealand, Australia, China and Japan, and two still to be run (Malaysia and India), Delhi-based Gill enjoys a commanding 42-point lead over his team-mate Fabian Kreim of Germany. A win here on Sunday will ensure Gill his second APRC crown following his success in 2013.
Piloting the Race Torque-prepared MRF Skoda Fabia R5, Gill, who turns 35 a day before the sixth and final round in Chikkamgaluru, India (Dec 3-5), has barely put a wheel wrong in the championship this year as he mastered varying terrains and extreme weather conditions without compromising on pace that left his rivals chasing shadows.
The Malaysian Rally route, which is a mix of narrow and flowing dirt tracks through the nearby palm oil plantations, has always challenged the best of drivers and machines. Also to be factored in is the hot and humid weather besides heavy tropical rains, like the one that lashed the city for three hours and more this afternoon.
For the Malaysian Rally, Gill, who won here in 2014, will have his long-time co-driver Glenn Macneall of Australia back in the saddle. The experienced Aussie missed the Japan round where Gill was partnered by Belgian Stephane Prevot, while 24-year old Kreim has Christian Frank in the co-driver’s seat, also in a MRF Skoda Fabia R5.
“We have had a perfect season and have the title in our own hands in Malaysia. My team-mate Fabian Kreim still has a chance of winning the title. It is going to be another exciting battle. It would obviously be a dream to travel as champion to the grand finale of the APRC season in my native India,” said Gill.
“I am very happy with my first season in the APRC and didn’t believe I would be challenging for the title at the first attempt. However, my chances of winning the title are very slim and Gaurav has driven a flawless season so far. All that is missing from me is a win, and I’m out to change that in Malaysia,” said Kreim.