Skoda Team MRF have a brand new weapon for their lenghty domination of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, and Gaurav Gill has the upgrade he wanted.
A clean slate. Well, as close to a clean slate as can be for a racing outfit that’s been competing in the same championship for over a decade. MRF has found itself a comfort zone of sorts in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship although they certainly aren’t ones to be left behind when it comes to using the latest in rally technology.
That is something that 2013 APRC champion Gaurav Gill is thankful for as the Skoda Team MRF gave him the latest R5 specification of the Fabia rally car to use for his latest campaign.
“It’s a pretty big evolution from the Super 2000 car,” Gill told autoX. “The suspension geometry is entirely different and the chassis is much stiffer.
“The S2000 car’s chassis still used to have a little bit of give but this car is really stiff and the car is very nimble, which is the thing that all rally drivers look for the most in a car. We live for a car with great mid-corner ability!”
Powering the new car is a 1.6-litre, turbocharged, in-line four cylinder engine that is essentially the same kind of engine that powers a WRC car except that it has a smaller turbo restrictor. Despite that one can easily expect a power output well in excess of 300bhp.
Gill used the car’s power and his growing experience with the APRC to win the opening round of the season; the Whangarei Rally ahead of his 23-year-old German teammate Fabian Kreim. Even at such a young age, however, Kreim has been driving the R5 Fabia since last year in the German rally championship and even in FIA World Rally Championship rounds in the WRC-2 category.
Gill, who will be 35 this December, has been hoping to step up to the WRC-2 level for a while now or at the very least a campaign of six or seven rounds of the FIA European Rally Championship.
“I am extremely thankful to MRF for giving me the chance to drive cars that are up to the latest technological standards,” said Gill. “But I have also been making a case for them to expand into Europe as I feel that their tyres have gotten fairly good and even with the required development work, stepping up to that level would be a great move for them and also for me.”
Having to compete against drivers who compete in up to 20 rallies a year while he himself only gets his hands on MRF’s APRC machine when he reaches a round, is not the ideal situation for Gill. However, by his own admission, it could be a lot worse.
“I would not be with MRF if I was not grateful for the faith they have in me and also if I didn’t expect something more to happen in the future,” said Gill. “I have come to realise that motorsport development in India, especially on four wheels, doesn’t always move quickly due to the expense involved. I feel like I can afford to be patient and that my patience will ultimately be rewarded.”