Perfect Result for MRF in New Caledonia

Checking our Gaurav Gills Car, Rally New Caledonia 2015Gaurav Gill has won the Rally of New Caledonia for a third time as Team MRF and Race Torque locked out the top three positions in second round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).

Driving a Skoda Fabia Super 2000, the Indian and his Australian co-driver, Glenn Macneall, took the lead during the first day and were never headed as they led home team-mates Pontus Tidemand (Sweden) and Jean-Louis Leyraud (France) in identical cars.

Gill’s win, his third in four years in New Caledonia, now sees him just three points behind Tidemand in the battle for the championship lead, with both drivers having won and event apiece.

“It’s been a great weekend for us and the team. We had some small issues at the start of the weekend, but the team made a good effort and got it sorted which helped us get the confidence back in the car,” Gill said.

“We had a great day on day one and on day two we were in a good position to control the rally. It has been a great effort by the team, and the tyres worked well.”

Gaurav Gill, Rally New Caledonia 2015Gill’s lead was cut from two minutes to just 39 seconds on the final day as Tidemand charged through the final day’s stages to try and cause an unlikely win. The former Swedish Champion was delayed with a flat tyre on the first day after he slid into a wall, and had to stop and change it.

“We had more good experience on this rally. It is a different surface and for sure, we had a puncture in the first stage that was my mistake,” Tidemand said.

“In addition to our six stage wins on day one, we were fastest on every stage on day two and put up a great battle. We have gained a lot of experience this weekend, and although we know we could potentially have finished on top, we did what we came here to do – we took our ‎Fabia S2000 all the way from start to finish and scored championship points.”

The third Race Torque Skoda Fabia S2000 of Jean-Louis Leyraud and Australian Scott Beckwith finished the event in third place after another solid drive.

“We finished on the podium as I wanted. It is very good and I am leading the New Caledonia Championship and I’m the first New Caledonian driver,” Leyraud said.

Jean-Louis Leyraud, Rally New Caledonia 2015
“It was very difficult and very slippery, especially on day two. My goal was just to finish, not to try too hard and not to make mistakes.”

Team boss, Lane Heenan, was thrilled with the team’s performance over the weekend, having now achieved two 1-2 finishes in successive events.

“After New Zealand we knew that Pontus was going to be very fast in New Caledonia, despite this being his first time here,” Heenan said.

“However, a slight mistake on day one gave the advantage to Gaurav, and he was able to control the pace to stay in front at the finish. The Team MRF Skodas again performance faultlessly, and we couldn’t be happier with the way the season has started. Now we prepare for Rally Queensland in a few weeks time, where hopefully we can score another 1-2-3 finish.”

Straight after the Rally of New Caledonia, Tidemand and co-driver, Emil Axelsson, left to contest the Rally of Portugal, where they will debut Skoda’s new R5 rally car in the World Championship event.

APRC Points after round 2
1. Pontus Tidemand 70
2. Gaurav Gill 67
3. Jean-Louis Leyraud 41
4. Michael Young 26
5. Subhan Aksa 20

APRC Manufacturers Points
1. Skoda 78
2. Subaru 26
3. Mitsubishi 20


Team MRF Fills New Caledonia Podium

Pontus Tidemand, Rally New Caledonia 2015The podium at the second round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), held in New Caledonia, has been dominated by Team MRF with Gaurav Gill of India eventually taking the win ahead of his two team-mates.

Piloting his Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000, Gill took the lead on the first stage on Saturday after his Swedish team-mate Pontus Tidemand got a puncture and lost over two minutes as a result.

Gill said: “It’s been a great weekend for us and the team. We had some small issues at the start of the weekend but the team made a good effort and got it sorted which helped us get the confidence back in the car. We had a great day on day one and day two we were in good position to control the rally.

“We’re here first and second which is the most important thing. It has been a great effort by the team, and the tyres worked well,” said Gill at the finish ceremony.

Pontus Tidemand, Rally New Caledonia 2015While Gill and co-driver Glenn Macneall simply drove to conserve his lead, Tidemand fought back on day two in his Skoda Fabia S2000 on debut in New Caledonia to close the gap from two minutes to only 39 seconds over only 119 competitive kilometres.

“We had more good experience on this rally, it is a different surface and for sure, we had a puncture in the first stage it was my mistake. We hit a little wall so that’s destroyed our weekend, well not destroyed it but made it not easy,” said Tidemand.

The young Swede and his co-driver Emil Axelsson leave New Caledonia tonight for the next World Rally Championship round, Rally Portugal, next weekend where he will debut Skoda Motorsport’s new R5 car.

Jean Louis Leyraud, Rally New Caledonia 2015“It is my first WRC event in the new car with Skoda Motorsport so I’m really looking forward to that.”

The final podium spot was filled by local driver Jean-Louis Leyraud in his Skoda Fabia S2000 who said: “We finished on the podium as I wanted. It is very good and I am leading the New Caledonia Championship and I’m the first New Caledonian driver.”

“It was very difficult and very slippery, especially this afternoon. My goal was just to finish, not to try too hard and not to make mistakes,” continued Leyraud.

Emmanuel Guigou, Rally New Caledonia 2015The Team MRF team-mates now sit neck-and-neck in the overall APRC Drivers’ points with only three points separating them, as they head towards the International Rally of Queensland next month which also doubles as the final round of the Pacific Cup.

Another New Caledonian driver Eugène Creuhnet in a Mitsubishi Evo 9, was 4th, followed by French national Manu Guigou who moved up a spot on Day2 to finish 5th overall and win the two-wheel class in his Renault Clio R3t.

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Rally New Caledonia 2015, Results after Leg Two:
Gill/Macneall, 02:29:16.4
Tidemand/Axelsson, 02:29:56.0
Leyraud/Beckwith, 02:35:39.6
Creugnet/Delrieu, 02:37:05.9
Guigou/Gaspard, 02:39:55.4
Dalstein/Dalstein, 02:40:43.5
Martin/Mouazan,02:46:34.1
Blanche/Gaspard, 02:53:39.8
Cazalas/Calvet, 02:55:17.4


Gill Throws Down Challenge

Gaurav Gill, Rally New Caledonia 2015The second round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) is set to start later today in the tropical territory of New Caledonia as drivers prepare to tackle new roads in the tricky event.

Former APRC Champion, Gaurav Gill of India, has won the New Caledonian rally twice (2012 and 2013) and finished in the runner-up position last year and says his experience on these roads should give him an advantage over his Team MRF team-mate Pontus Tidemand.

“Compared to my teammate, I have the experience of driving on these tracks which can turn out to be an advantage for me. The idea is to go flat out in the opening stages to open up as much lead as possible,” said Gill.

“Tidemand is a good driver and I relish the challenge of driving against a teammate who can push me. It brings out the best in me.”

However Gill adds the new stages are an added challenge but he still remains confident in his team ahead of the two-day event, held north of Noumea near the towns of Poya and Farino.

Pontus Tidemand, Rally New Caledonia 2015“The roads are all new, quite technical with hundreds of crests and pace notes are going to be the key and we’re quite confident of our notes. It’s a new rally but a long rally, so let’s see as it’s very easy to make a mistake here, so from the first stage my plan is to keep it together and work on getting my rhythm back, settle in and take it from there” said Gill at the start ceremony in down-town Noumea.

Despite competing in New Caledonia for the first time, Swedish driver Tidemand is optimistic about the experience of competing on the muddy and often slippery roads.

Tidemand said: “This year consists of many new experiences since every event is completely new for me, and Rally New Caledonia is no exception.

“Our biggest goal this weekend is to make it all the way to the finish line and, of course, to do it as best as we can with a result as good as possible. I look forward to another challenge!”

Rallye De Nouvelle-Caledonie also doubles as the second round of the Pacific Cup, which local driver and fellow Skoda S2000 driver Jean Louis Leyraud is also competing for.

Jean-Louis Leyraud, Rally New Caledonia 2015“I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do with the Skoda, because New Zealand was the first time with the car, first time Scott as a co-driver, and no rallying for 8 months so I took it easy. But here I will try to push a little bit more, but I know I cannot catch the two [Gill and Tidemand] in front of me.”

Team MRF’s main opposition in Rally New Caledonia will come from local drivers Emmanuel Guigou (Renault Clio) and Eric Riandet (Peugeot 207).

Guigou is driving a brand new R3 turbo charged 1.6 Renault Clio and won the Rally of New Caledonia outright in 2013 with the new turbocharged Renault Clio promising to be good for the gravel as it has more torque.

“It will be difficult to fight with the four wheel car on gravel but I will do my maximum. The roads are really tricky with lots of crests, but really fantastic!”, said Guigou before the start.

Rally New Caledonia is located to the west side of the main island, Grande Terre. The start ceremony and the first two stages, a super special run twice, takes place near the capital Noumea in the southern part of the main island. On Saturday and Sunday, the event moves north and the remaining stages will be run in the area between Poya and Farino, with the service park in Bourail. In total, competitors will face 16 special stages totalling 245km.

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Tidemand Wants More

Pontus Tidemand, Rally Whangarei 2015Pontus Tidemand will be hoping to win his second APRC event in succession.

This weekend’s second round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship presents a new challenge for Team MRF drivers Pontus Tidemand and Gaurav Gill.

Driving their Skoda Fabia S2000s, the pair finished first and second in the first round of the championship in New Zealand in April, and will be hoping for a similar result on the small Pacific island event.

Swedish driver, Tidemand, dominated the first round on his APRC debut, while his Indian team-mate recovered well from earlier problems to snatch second place on the last stage of the Rally of Whangarei.

“It is always great to get a good start to the season,” Tidemand said ahead of another debut event for the 24-year old.

“We aim to help ŠKODA take home the championship title in the APRC and to score points early makes it easier for the rest of the series.

“This year consists of many new experiences since every event is completely new for me, and Rally New Caledonia is no exception.

“Our biggest goal this weekend is to make it all the way to the finish line and, of course, to do it as best as we can with a result as good as possible. I look forward to another challenge!”

Gill has won Rally New Caledonia twice, in 2012 and 2013, and finished in second place last year. The former Asia-Pacific Champion is determined to reclaim his event title this year and, in doing so, bridge the gap on his younger team-mate.

The team will also run a third Skoda Fabia S2000, for New Caledonian star Jean Louis Leyraud, who is currently second in the Pacific Cup behind Tidemand.

Team manager for Team MRF, Lane Heenan, said that both drivers were in a confident mood heading into the event.

“We had a great start to the season in New Zealand with a 1-2 result, and we’re confident of a similar showing this weekend,” Heenan said.

“New Caledonia is always a tough event. The road conditions can be very rough, and if it’s wet it throws another variable into the equation.

“However, the combination of the Skoda Fabia, MRF Tyres and two of the best drivers in the world should stand us in good stead.”

Team MRF’s main opposition in the Rally New Caledonia will come from Indonesian driver Subhan Aksa in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, and from local drivers Emmanuel Guigou (Renault Clio) and Eric Riandet (Peugeot 207).

Rally New Caledonia is located to the west side of the main island, Grande Terre.
Friday’s start ceremony and the first two stages, a super special run twice, takes place near the capital, Noumea, in the southern part of the main island.

On Saturday and Sunday, the event moves north and the remaining stages will be run in the area between Poya and Farino, with the service park in Bourail. In total, competitors will face 16 special stages totalling 245km.

2015 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship points after round 1

1. Pontus Tidemand 39 points
2. Gaurav Gill 29 points
3. Michael Young 26 points
4. Subhan Aksa 20 points
5. Jean Louis Leyraud 16 points
6. Mitsuhiro Aoki 11 points

Source: Team Release