Gill wins India Rally, creates history

Chikkamagaluru (Karnataka), Dec 5 (IANS) Indias Gaurav Gill notched up a historic win as he emerged champion in the Coffee Day India Rally, the concluding round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) here on Monday.

It was the 35-year-old’s sixth consecutive win in the APRC this season following his success in New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan and Malaysia. In the process, the Delhi-based driver became the first person to win all rounds of an FIA championship on the way to annexing the title.

The 2016 title is his second after his maiden triumph in 2013.

In winning the Coffee Day India Rally, Gill amply demonstrated his driving prowess and had a lot to spare at the finish while clocking three hours, 39 minutes, 37.9 seconds over 17 special stages.

Cusco Racing’s Michael Young was a distant second, over 11 minutes behind, while Gill’s team-mate Sanjay Takale came third with 4:03:51.

Gill, who drove the MRF Skoda Fabia R5, admitted it was befitting that he achieved the record in his own country.

“Undoubtedly, this is my most satisfying win if only because it was achieved in India and here in Chikkamagaluru. Coming into this rally with five wins out of five, there was pressure on me and high expectations. More importantly, I hope that my wins and the record make motorsport more popular in India and also attract manufacturers and sponsors,” Gill said.

“It was an extremely difficult and technical rally because of the narrow, twisting route with hundreds of corners which required,” Gill added in a statement.

Gill’s long-time partner Glenn MacNeall clinched the co-driver’s title while MRF took the team championship and Skoda bagged the manufacturer’s crown.

With his MRF team-mate and German champion Fabian Kreim not in the fray following a crash on Sunday, Gill, who led overnight by over seven minutes, pushed ahead in the early part of the day. But with his car encountering some problems, he was forced to ease off. Yet, he thrilled the crowd with his skills.

While Gill cornered the limelight, Karna Kadur of Team Yokohama 2K took the honours in the MRF FMSCI Indian Rally Championship that was run concurrently after his nearest rival and overnight leader, Amittrajit Ghosh dropped out due to mechanical problems.

Finishing behind Kadur was Bikku Babu and team-mate Rahul Kanthraj.

Kadur also topped in the INRC 2000 category for the second time this season while Takale won in the IRC class that he had also entered apart from APRC, and Jacob KJ (Manoj Mohanan) chalked up his fourth consecutive win in the FMSCI Cup to bag the championship with a round to spare.

–IANS

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