Thanks to the participation of India's most successful rally driver ever, our attention once again turns to the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) as Gaurav Gill gets his title defence underway in New Zealand as the Rally Whangarei gets underway. Gill and new co-driver Stephane Prevot leads his new Team MRF teammate Ole Christian Veiby after the end of the super special stage.
After the shakedown session, Gill expressed satisfaction even as he shrugged off Veiby being quicker than him, albeit by five-tenths of a second, and reiterated his confidence going into the new APRC season after having dominated last year when he won all six rounds of the championship.
With a cushion of 2.5 seconds, Gill hopes to build on the early momentum on Saturday when the rally moves north to run two loops of four Special Stages which the two-times champion is only too familiar with unlike Veiby, a regular in the World Rally Championship–2, and who is breaking new ground in this regional series.
“Everything is new for me, but I hope to perform well for our team. The Stages are a bit slippery because of the gravel. However, I think we have the right set-up to do well,” said Veiby.
PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION (after Super Special Stage):
1. Gaurav Gill / Stephane Prevot (Team MRF Tyres, Skoda Fabia R5) 1min 49.2secs
2. Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjærmoen (Team MRF Tyres, Skoda Fabia R5) 1min 51.7secs
3. Jan Ketomaa / Ville Mannisenmaki (Mpart Sport, Mitsubishi Mirage) 1min 52.9secs