Gaurav Gill became the first Indian rally driver to win an international title with his APRC triumph, but as always, there are bigger fish to fry.
Thirty-two-year-old Gaurav Gill is willing to accept how his FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) title looks on paper. His Skoda-MRF teammate Esapekka Lappi – the 22-year-old Finnish national rally champion – won more rallies than Gill. In the two rallies in which Gill and Lappi both made it to the finish, Lappi came out on top.
Rival outfit Proton pulled the plug on their APRC participation and former WRC podium finisher Chris Atkinson, who won the title last year for MRF, didn’t return to defend his crown.
In fact, in the season opening round of the Rally of Whangarei, both Lappi and Gill were beaten in the overall timing by 26-year-old Hayden Paddon, the 2011 Production World Rally Champion who was behind the wheel of a Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. Gill and Lappi were driving factory supported Super 2000-spec Skoda Fabia’s. And Gill failed to finish the rally, enforcing the perception of him being a car-breaker.
But at the end of the day, the only thing that matters in motorsport – a sporting discipline notorious for its numerous ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ – is the championship table.
And the 2013 APRC championship table very clearly shows the Indian 28.5 points clear of championship runner-up Lappi, who is rallying’s latest up and coming hot shot as well as Skoda’s development driver who has won a European Rally Championship crown for the Czech manufacturer.
‘To finish first, first you must be Finnish’, goes the old rally saying. Well, Gill finished more often than the Finn and came out on top when it really mattered.
No mean feat for a driver who hails from a country where rally cars are decidedly pre-historic if you were to compare what’s at the disposal of drivers even from Sri Lanka and South-East Asia.
As the paraphrased quote in the title of this write up proves, the ambitious and self-assured Gill isn’t done dreaming big yet.
The Delhi native has been invited by Prodrive to test a WRC-spec Mini and is hoping to use his APRC win as leverage with Skoda to make it to WRC-2. Watch this space.
GILL & APRC
2007: 8th, 9 points
2008: 8th, 17 points, 1 win
2009: 4th, 12 points
2010: 2nd, 97 points, 1 win
2011: 4th, 63 points
2012: 4th, 82 points, 1 win
2013: 1st, 145 points, 2 wins