Obihiro (Japan), 14 Sept. 2016
: Team MRF Skoda driver Gaurav Gill from India enjoyed a trouble-free run and emerged clear leader after Leg-1 of the Rally Hokkaido, the fourth round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship here on Saturday.
Capitalising on his vast experience, Gill, the 2013 APRC champion, and his new co-driver Stephane Prevot, pulled away from the pack in his Skoda Fabia R5 to enjoy a lead of one minute, 24.9 seconds over his nearest rival and team-mate Fabian Kreim (Christian Frank).
“It’s been a good day. I had good rhythm and speed. It was smooth sailing with Stephane and that was something I was nervous about prior to the rally, but we have a really good setup. Although we made a few changes to the car, it’s working very well and I wish to continue like this tomorrow,” said Gill who has won all the three previous rounds in New Zealand, Australia and China.
Meanwhile, Kreim managed to fight his way back into second after a troublesome morning which saw him with very little rear grip and a puncture on Stage Four.
“So far, it’s not bad for the first time here. It was not so easy, there are very deep ruts and a lot of deep gravel, but so far we are satisfied. The car setup is getting better and better and we will keep trying tomorrow. I think some more changing on setup tonight and then we will see,” said Kreim.
New Zealander Mike Young also suffered a puncture in exactly the same place as Kreim, as a section of a cattle grid became dislodged and caused punctures to multiple competitors; all on the right hand side of the car.
Young had managed to hold second place all morning, but fell to third at the end of the first day after suffering from a second puncture, like other competitors behind him.
eom/AP Media Comm. release