APRC: Gaurav Gill claims third title after Rally India win
It was another mature performance from Gaurav Gill (with co-driver Stephane Prevot) in the final round of the 2017 Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
The Indian was supreme in the Coffee Day India Rally, winning eight of the 16 stages to clinch the 2017 title - courtesy of his three wins to two for MRF Skoda teammate.
Ole Christian Veiby's (co-driver Stig Skjarmoen) charge was once again hindered due to transmission issues on Day 1. The team fixed the problem, but he was considerably behind Gill.
Although the Norwegian recovered with eight stage wins - mostly on Sunday - but he was still 17m38.4s behind Gill to finish second in the rally, as well as the championship.
For Gill, this is his third APRC title, having managed to successfully defend the 2016 crown. "Obviously, I am extremely pleased to win such a hard-fought championship," said the Indian.
"My satisfaction lies in the fact that I beat my team-mate OC (Veiby) who is a World Championship driver and even won the round in Poland.
"More importantly, this victory is for Indian motorsport and it showed that India is capable of competing with the best talent in the World.
“For me personally, it satisfying to win three APRC titles despite the fact that I get to drive just five or six rounds in a year and not as much seat time in the rally car as my team-mate.
"OC, for instance, is a factory test driver for Skoda and also participates in the World Championship besides other rallies. So, for me to beat him despite the odds I face, is especially satisfying..
"Looking ahead, I think I have done enough to show that I have the pace and ability to compete at the World-level as my first APRC title in 2013 was against my then team-mate Esapekka Lappi from Finland who today is a regular in the World championship with several wins
" At the moment, I accept what is on offer without thinking too much about what is in store for me in my rallying career," he added.
Third went to Sri Lankan Sharfaz Junaid (co-driver Akhry Ameer), after a late retirement for India's Ahbilash PG (co-driver Shrikanth Gowda) in the Subaru, with Sumit Panjabi (co-driver Nitin Jacob) pipping his fellow countryman to fourth.
For New Zealand's Mike Young (co-driver Malcolm Read), it was a disappointing outing in the Volkswagen India's Polo, after a fuel leak on Saturday ended his rally.
Meanwhile, in the Indian National Rally Championship leg, it was Karna Kadur (co-driver Nikhil Pai) in the Volkswagen Polo, who claimed the overall win from the INRC 2 category.
Early leader, Mahindra's Amittrajit Ghosh (co-driver Ashwin Naik) suffered retirement on Day 1 along with two other INRC class drivers.
The winner in INRC class and second overall was Arjun Rao (co-driver Satish Rajgopal), while the INRC 3 class winner Dean Mascarenhas (co-driver Shruptha Padival) was third overall.