Whangarei (New Zealand), Apr 30 (PTI) India’s Gaurav Gill of Team MRF Tyres turned back a 33-second deficit to win the International Rally of Whangarei, the first round of FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, here today.
Overnight leader and team-mate Ole Christian Veiby, who eventually finished second behind Gill, led by 23 seconds at the half-way mark today after first loop of three Special Stages. But he suffered brake failure on his Skoda Fabia R5 in the very first Stage after service which cost him one minute, 22.6 seconds.
The 20-year old Norwegian was then docked a penalty of one minute, 30 seconds for reporting nine minutes late to the start of the next Stage which effectively ruined his chances of scoring a win in his maiden APRC appearance.
Reigning champion Gill (co-driver Stephane Prevot), also in a Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia R5, seized the chance and cruised home sparing two minutes, 02.8 seconds to Veiby.
In the process, Gill notched his third New Zealand crown and seventh APRC win in a row, following his clean sweep of six last year when he took his second championship title.
“I used tyres with different grooving which again helped me to up my pace after we had sorted out the damper issue overnight that had cost me time yesterday,” Gill said.
Provisional classification (after Leg-2): APRC: 1. Gaurav Gill / Stephane Prevot (Team MRF Tyres, Skoda Fabia R5) (02hrs, 35mins, 06.8secs); 2. Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skj rmoen (Team MRF Tyres, Skoda Fabia R5) (02:37:09.6); 3. Roberter Blomberg / Lars Andersson (Mpart Sport, Mitsubishi Mirage) (02:52:52.3).
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.