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India's Gill Takes First Points As International Rally Teams Eye Queensland Ret
Posted by: newsla on Apr 13, 2014 - 04:32 PM
WRC Rally News 2010
India's Gill Takes First Points As International Rally Teams Eye Queensland Return

INDIA’S Gaurav Gill has marked himself as the driver to beat in the International Rally of Queensland in June after winning the opening round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship in New Zealand today.


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Gill, the defending Asia Pacific champion, surged from second place overnight to defeat his MRF Skoda teammate and current European champion Jan Kopecky by 11.9 seconds in the International Rally of Whangarei.

Australian Mark Pedder, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, finished the two-day event more than eight minutes behind in third place.

The win boosted Gill’s stature as the dominant regional-based driver in the Asia Pacific Championship, which heads to the Queensland Sunshine Coast for round three on 20-22 June. In last year’s championship his consistency saw off Kopecky’s predecessor, young Finnish ace Esapekka Lappi.

Gill and his Australian co-driver Glenn Macneall made a clean sweep of the final day’s six special stages in their Skoda Fabia S2000.

After starting 23.1 sec down this morning, the 32-year-old found advantage on the 27.43km Springfield test. A time 25 seconds faster was all Gill needed to put his teammate behind him, but he kept building the lead on the run to the finish and his first win in the NZ event.

“We’ve come close to winning here before but every year we’ve had some issue either technical or mechanical,” said Gill, runner-up in 2013.

“This time it was the best way to win – to come from the back, especially being down by 23 seconds. It was a massive amount of time to make up in this situation.

“The most important thing is, it was a level playing field for Kopecký and I. He is the European champion and I’m the defending champion so it is a good benchmark for me. Plus we had new stages this rally and I had to push really hard – that’s what makes the win so much more exciting for me and the team.”

Czech Republic-based Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dresler took consolation in second place. The first time Kopecky has been to New Zealand, it was also his first time in the car and using the Indian-made MRF tyre.

“We had a really good fight all weekend, so thanks a lot to Gaurav for that because you need to be pushed by an opponent to be able to improve,” Kopecky said.

“I don’t have so much experience at these gravel rallies and it being the first time for me to compete so far away from home so we are happy with the result.”

With no significant competition, Mark Pedder and Claire Dowling spent much of the event learning their Mitsubishi Lancer. Fourth and leading two-wheel-drive, Australian Tom Wilde and co-driver Bill Hayes in their Renault Clio overtook the 4WD Skoda of China’s Jun Xu and Sheng Liu late in the day.

The championship travels to New Caledonia for Round 2 on 16-18 May.

The International Rally of Queensland will be based at Oaks Oasis Resort at Caloundra, about 100 kms north of Brisbane. After an official Ceremonial Start at Kings Beach on Friday night, competitors will tackle familiar forest stages in the Imbil and Kenilworth districts in the coast hinterland.

Tickets for the weekend spectator locations will be on sale soon on www.rallyqueensland.com.au.

2014 APRC drivers standings (after Rd 1):
1 Gaurav Gill (India) 38
2 Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic) 31
3 Mark Pedder (Australia) 25
4 Tom Wilde (Australia) 19
5 Jun Xu (China) 17
6 Michael Young (New Zealand) 12
7 Sanjay Takale (India) 8

2014 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship calendar:
Round 1: Rally of Whangarei (NZ) 11-13 April
Round 2: Rallye de Nouvelle Caledonie 16-18 May
Round 3: International Rally of Queensland 20-22 June
Round 4: Malaysian Rally 15-17 August
Round 5: Rally Hokkaido (Japan) 26-28 September
Round 6: China Rally 7-9 November

PaddockTalk Perspective

Also in WRC Rally News 2010:

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