The final round of the 2017 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship will be held in India this weekend, and Team MRF drivers Gaurav Gill and Ole Christian Veiby both have their eyes on the title.
Heading into the last of five rounds, Indian star Gill leads his Norwegian team-mate by just six points after a dominant season by the team’s Skoda Fabia R5s.
In essence, whichever driver wins this weekend will walk away as the 2017 Asia Pacific Rally Champion.
Both drivers have won two events apiece, and both are as determined as each other to win the Coffee Day India Rally.
Based in Chikmagalur in south west India, the rally runs in the region’s coffee plantations on narrow access roads.
The area is quite mountainous with lots of trees, meaning average speeds can be as low as 50 kilometres an hour.
“It’s going to be a thrilling finale,” Race Torque and Team MRF team manager, Lane Heenan, said.
“Gill has a good lead in the series and will be desperate to clinch his third APRC title on home soil.
“But OC is a real star of the future and has already shown his speed at World Championship level. He’ll be going all-out to win the event and put pressure on his team-mate right from the very first stage.
“It promises to be an exciting tussle.”
Team MRF have already wrapped up the Teams’ Award for 2017, while Skoda has an unassailable lead in the Manufacturers’ Cup.
The Team MRF Skoda Fabia R5s have been the class of the field throughout the 2017 season, as they have been for the past six years.
Gill and Veiby have provided the team with three 1-2 finishes this season, and a fourth clean sweep is well on the cards this weekend.
Their strongest competition this weekend is likely to come from Indian driver PG Abhilash in a Subaru Impreza, and New Zealand driver, Mike Young, in a Volkswagen Polo R2.
The Coffee Day India Rally will see drivers tackle 16 special stages over a total competitive distance of 207.54 kilometres.
APRC points after round 4 of 5
1. Gaurav Gill 136 points
2. Ole Christian Veiby 130 points
3. Robert Bloomberg 68 points
4. Jari Ketomaa 46 points
5. Fuyuhiko Takahashi 40 points