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India’s Gill wins opening round Rally

India’s Gourav Gill of Team MRF won the opening round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship held at Whangarei on April 13.

Forty-nine cars participated in the three-day event held from April 11 to 13, 2014 at the William Fraser Memorial park location of Pohe Island, Whangarei.

Gill, three-time winner of the Indian National Rally Championship and the APRC Champion title in 2013, drove a factory-fitted Skoda Fabia S2000.

He and his New Zealand Co-driver Glenn Macneall swept the final day’s six special stages, concluding the VINZ International Rally of Whangarei 2014. They snatched the race from overnight leader and teammate Jan Kopeck of Team MRF, who drove a similar MRF Skoda Fabia S2000.

Champions clash

Kopeck of Czech Republic was the European Rally Champion 2013 and was on his first visit to New Zealand. Australian pair Mark Pedder and Claire Dowling finished third in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X.

The 220.87 km of competition track is considered to be one of the best roads in the world for a car rally.

According to Gill, a level playing field with Kopeck was the most important aspect of the competition.

“He is the European Champion and I am the defending champion and hence it was a good benchmark for me. We had new stages in this Rally and I had to push really hard, making the win more exciting for me and the team,” he said.

It was a yet another proud win for Team MRF in New Zealand.

MRF is the fourth largest tyre company in the world and uses its own tyres in rallies. The Company is developing a new tyre hoping that it would be considered for use at a future World Rally Championship.

Premier Rally

The Federation Internationale de L’Automobile Asia Pacific Rally Championship (FIA APRC), since its beginning in 1998, has been recognised as a premier regional Championship in World Car Rallying.

Comprising seven regions the FIA regional championship races are held in Australia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Thailand.

The Indian round, scheduled to be held in the South Indian city of Bangalore has been cancelled due to general elections currently being held in India.

John Punnoose is a former Freelance Rally Driver from India. He is an official of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India and accompanies all the MRF Rally Teams competing in APRC Rally.

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