Coimbatore, Jan 31 (PTI) Gaurav Gill was in blazing form at the wheels of his Mahindra XUV as he and navigator Musa Sherif showed immense skills and patience to win the Rally of Coimbatore here on Sunday and again emerge national champions.
By winning two legs on tarmac in Itanagar last month and performing strongly in Kethanur, 40km outside Coimbatore, where the rally stages were situated, Gill showed he was the king of gravel as well.
'I am extremely happy to win three rallies in a row and become national champion for the seventh time,' said Gill.
For JK Tyre, the return to the rallying scene with a bang after a long COVID-19-forced hiatus could not have been sweeter.
It was a brave decision on part of the FMSCI's INRC and the competing teams to go ahead with the rally season despite fears over the virus.
From Saturday to Sunday afternoon, Gill had a lot of problems but through his experience and large heart he conquered the elements and technical glitches in the car.
From Stage 1 on Saturday till the end of Stage 6 on Sunday, Gill's rally machine was not in best shape.
The car was in 'limp mode' and he was not able to drive at the maximum speed he wanted on a demanding surface laden with gravel, hard pieces of stone and rock.
There were twists and turns, cars kicking up dust which made the two days of rallying action a joy to watch.
The champion rally driver from Delhi, who trains hard and is normally a picture of composure, adapted well.
'I knew I was not able to push beyond 100 or 105kmph in dirt. I had to drive technically and ensure I finished. I must thank Hardy Sir (Sanjay Sharma) of JK Tyre for being ever supportive. We have won the championship and this is pure joy,' said Gill.
'In 2020, when lockdown happened, I was simply training at home for nine months in the gym. To get back into the car, for which I thank Mahindras and JK Tyre for this booster. It has been a difficult year for all of us, and to be in the sport is a joy,' said Gill.
Gill and Musa have participated in 63 rallies together, with 39 finishes, 38 on the podium and 36 wins. PTI AH AH KHS KHS