Gaurav Gill may not have won the second round of the FIA APRC, but his pace to salvage second was breathtaking.
Thanks to a stunning drive by India’s Gaurav Gill who made up a deficit of over two minutes to finish second, Team MRF delivered another 1-2 result with Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby comfortably winning the International Rally of Johor, the third round of FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, here on Sunday.
It was a shame, however, that the terrific drive came after an excursion off the road cost Gill the chance for a victory.
Gill came up with one of his finest drives ever in the Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia R5, winning all the six Special Stages on the second day of the rally.
The 21-year old Veiby, Skoda’s factory-backed driver who recently topped the WRC-2 category in Poland, thus scored back-to-back win following his win in the second round in Australia after Gill had taken the season-opener in New Zealand a month earlier. The win also put helped Veiby to consolidate his championship lead over Gill.
The day that was spared of rains which had marred Saturday’s proceedings, belonged to Gill who had lost a lot of time on Saturday after a run-in with a tree stump and alternator problem as he made up the two-minute, 16-second deficit to Ketomaa over a distance of just 76 Kms and went on to beat the World Rally Championship driver by 18.8 seconds, but finished 04:41.7 adrift of Veiby.
Gill’s pace was phenomenal as he made 26 seconds on Ketomaa in the day’s first Stage (11.98Kms), 31 in each of the next two (12.21Kms and 13.93Kms) on the first loop. After service, Gill made up a further 69 seconds in the second loop of the same stages to emerge second.
“After what happened to Gill on the first Stage yesterday, we were leading the whole Rally and it was kind of boring here,” said Veiby. “In Australia, it was more fun as Gill and I kept pushing each other, changing positions up and down. But a win is a win and my target is to win the championship.
“It is good to be back in winning mode after my flip in Finland. I just had to forget what happened and trust in yourself and the car. I prepared my mind as I knew Malaysia was a tough round. I read all about the rally, watched some videos to see what happened last year.”