Chikkamagaluru, 24 November 2017: With a deep penchant for raw speed, Gaurav Gill has proved beyond doubt that he is the Master of the Game. Considered as the best rally driver India has ever produced, Gaurav Gill, the defending champion and the current leader of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, set the tone for the sixth and final round at the Amber Valley School here on Friday.
He shook the earth and raised the dust, literally, and the 10,000-odd joyous crowd (approximate estimates) loved every second and every inch of it, and erupted into a thunderous applause. The man-made dirt track sprang to life and the crowd stood up in awe. Be it the speed or the drifting moves, the corners and the hand-brake manoeuvres, the daring and passionate champion provided seat-edged thrills in the Super Special Stage which is fashioned to provide the die-hard fan a real close-up treat. And Mr Gaurav Gill did not disappoint them today!
It lasted just, 2 minutes and 17.7 seconds, but with the start order being in reverse direction, the 38 INRC cars had to go through their laps before the faster APRC cars, six of them, arrived. But the crowd which gathered much before the scheduled 1.30pm had their fill. And the hours of wait, for over three hours, was worth the while, as Gill’s teammate Ole Christian Veiby clocked a blistering 2:17.9 and the crowd cheered him all the way. And it was, as if he is laying a red-carpet for his teammate, to take over the job of entertaining the fans. And then came the king of Indian motorsports, who unleashed his magic and the fireworks in ample measure. Then the ground was covered in thick, brown dust, and when it settled down, it was all over.
But those two minutes showcased THE MAN, THE SPEED, THE SKILL… It was just two minutes of an experience but those are the moments that we carry in our memories, for many years, maybe for life time. Thank you, Gill!
A difference of just 0.2 seconds, many thought was a minimal difference. But Gill beat OC (as the Norwegian is fondly called) by a substantial margin, as explained by a veteran motorsports journalist. For a SSS distance of 2.12 km, a difference of 0.2 seconds means, the gap would have been 2 seconds for 10 km and the first day’s stage distance is 143.42. So for a day, that margin of 0.2 seconds may not be 28-second gap in real terms but it gives a fair idea and puts in right perspective the difference between the Young Turk, who is well on his way to greater speeds, and the veteran warrior who loves to exhibit his passion and brute speed, and the inborn talent, on a larger stage, a la WRC2 or even an Euro Championship, where his teammate is currently on. And that’s the only logical conclusion onc can provide, for all his hard work, dedication and commitment for over a decade.
Is MRF listening? Only time will tell!
Super Special Stage report:
Gill (co-driver Stephane Prevot), the defending champion, clocked a blistering 02 minutes, 17.7 seconds over the 2.1 Kms circuit while APRC debutant Veiby (Stig Rune Skjarmoen) returned 02:17.9, both giving a thrilling exhibition of controlled aggression in their respective Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia R5 cars much to the delight of thousands of spectators.
Finishing a distant third behind the leading duo was PG Abhilash (Srikant Gowda) of Team R3A PGA Motorsports in a Subaru Impreza WRX Sti who timed 02:30.5, but ahead of New Zealand’s Mike Young (Malcolm Read), Sumit Panjabi (Nitin Jacob) and Sri Lanka’s Shafraz Junaid (Akhry Ameer).
Gill, who leads Veiby by six points in the winner-takes-all APRC title stakes, was last on the track and rode on the wave of popular support with a drive that would be long remembered after the 21-year old Norwegian, a regular in the WRC-2, posted a seemingly quickest time.
With so little separating them, Gill and Veiby are thus set for a battle royale over the next two days as the APRC caravan heads out to the estates of title sponsors Coffee Day Global for the Special Stages.
Earlier in the day, Veiby was the quickest in the shakedown clocking 01:23.3 as against Gill’s 01:25.0 as the pair had the first feel of the Skoda R5 this week, but the true test
“The stages are lot more open and wider than last year. So, the average speeds will be much higher. However, given the twisty route, I feel there will be a lot of stress on the car,” said Gill soon after the shakedown and during the pre-event FIA press conference when asked about his thoughts on the Stages following Thursday’s reconnaissance run.
Veiby said: “This event is nicknamed as “Rally of 1000 corners”, but it looks more like a million corners. The Stages are quite fast and I have never driven on such terrain. So, it is all about having a good feel of the car.”
In the MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship that is being run concurrently and also organized by the Motor Sports Club of Chikmagalur, Younis Ilyas (Harish Kumar) was the quickest overall (02:35.7) followed by Arjun Rao (Satish Rajagopal) and Amittrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik) of Team Mahindra Adventure.
Provisional results (Super Special Stage – 2.1 Kms):
FIA APRC: 1. Gaurav Gill / Stephane Prevot (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia R5) (02mins, 17.7secs); 2. Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjarmoen (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia R5) (02mins, 17.9secs); 3. PG Abhilash / Srikant Gowda (Team R3A PGA Motorsports, Subaru Impreza WRX Sti) (02:30.5).
MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship (Overall): 1. Younis Ilyas / Harish Kumar (02:35.7); 2. 2. Arjun Rao / Satish Rajagopal (Volkswagen Polo R2) (02:36.2); 3. Amittrajit Ghosh / Ashwin Naik (Mahindra Adventure, XUV 500) (02:36.6).
eom/inputs from press release