For Team MRF’s Gaurav Gill the season couldn’t have gone any better, winning the Coffee Day India Rally and securing his sixth win from six Asia Pacific Rally Championship rounds this year.
Together with co-driver Glenn Macneall, this victory was even more special, taking place in his home country after a season that also produced victories in New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan and Malaysia.
“This victory in my home country is the icing on the cake at the end of an outstanding 2016 season,” Gill said.
“I would like to say a special thank you to Team MRF and Skoda, which has always done a perfect job. It is thanks to this that I was able to add a second APRC title to the one I won in 2013.
“Undoubtedly, this is my most satisfying win, if only because it was achieved in India and here in Chikkamagaluru. Coming into this rally with five wins out of five, there was pressure on me and high expectations.
“More importantly, I hope that my wins and the record make motorsport more popular in India and also attract manufacturers and sponsors,” he said.
Gill’s victory came three days after he celebrated his 35th birthday, and he celebrated with his family and friends after the event.
As expected, the battle between the two Team MRF Skoda Fabia R5s was a close one, but Gill was handed the advantage when team-mates Fabian Kreim and Frank Christian hit a wall and damaged their Skoda’s suspension on the fourth stage.
“We came over a crest and into a left-hander. I think I was carrying too much speed into the corner and crashed into the stone wall on the outside. It was unfortunate, but that is the nature of motorsport,” the 2016 German Champion said.
Along with Gill’s six wins and the championship title, Team MRF also convincingly won the Teams’ Cup, while Skoda took out the Manufacturers’ Championship.
Thousands of fans watched the rally as it made its way through the coffee plantations that the route utilised. Conditions were tricky, but as usual Gill and his Skoda didn’t put a wheel wrong.
“Guarav has had a season that most drivers only ever dream about,” Team MRF boss, Lane Heenan, said.
“He has driven superbly all season and the Skoda Fabia and MRF Tyres have been exceptional.
“Of course none of this happens on its own, and we’ve had a great team this year who have ensured that we were able to win every rally we entered.
“The Asia Pacific Rally Championship is held in some of the most extreme conditions in the world – from heat and humidity to rain and mud – and this puts a strain on every team member, not just the driver and co-driver.
“This has been a total team effort, and I’m proud of the Team MRF and Race Torque guys for a job well done.”
The Coffee Day India Rally was held over 17 special stages and a total of 225.42 competitive kilometres.
Coffee Day India Rally, final results:
1. Gaurav Gill / Glenn Macneall, Skoda Fabia R5, 3h39m37
2. Mike Young / Malcolm Read, Subaru WRX STI, 3h51m10.3s
3. Sanjay Takale / Noriko Takeshita, Subaru WRX STI, 4h03m51.0s
Final Asia Pacific Rally Championship points:
1. Gaurav Gill 222
2. Fabian Kreim 138
3. Michael Young 119
4. Sanjay Takale 51
5. Manfred Stohl 37
6. Yuya Sumiyama 37