In a decision that reflected Team Sidvin’s definite shift towards youth and raw aggression, Gill, 26, will do one World Rally Championship (Production class) event this year before the team takes a call on who will be its representative in 2009.
For the Delhi-based Gill, the journey started a few months ago when team principal Mohan Nagarajan stated that they were watching the young driver and would closely monitor his progress in the APRC.
Gill’s victory in the Indonesian APRC in August brought with it positive feedback. "The speed, commitment and dedication he showed in Indonesia prompted Team Sidvin to test him out privately in Finland in the following days. Gill had an impressive test which made even four-times world rally champion Tommi Makinen remark that he had the qualities to become a world champ," sources said.
Team Sidvin then got Gill to undertake a recce in the Japan round of the PWRC and also got him to spend time with the mechanics and team members of Tommi Makinen Racing and Motoring Club.
Talks with Team MRF, who Gill is contracted with, too bore fruit this week. "We gave our approval because we realised it was a good opportunity for Gill to drive in the PWRC," said Team MRF supremo Anthony Rodricks. "Obviously, Team MRF cannot enter the PWRC because of our direct conflict of interest with the official tyres Pirelli. Our only request was that Gill be released for the APRC rallies to which they readily agreed."
However, Team Sidvin’s decision on who would drive in Wales was arrived at after weighing every option. "We decided that if Gaurav did one event this year it would give the team the necessary data on the car as well as a good evaluation on his capabilities as a driver. This would, in turn, help us make decisions on who we should field next year", the sources said.
In fact, initially Team Sidvin had the idea of fielding two cars in Wales but the second car which Naren used in Japan was damaged due to a roll. "We realised the car would have to be shipped from Japan to the United Kingdom. In any case, it wouldn’t have been ready in time for the Wales rally. Hence the decision to field only one driver."
The sources reiterated Team Sidvin’s commitment to providing top drivers an opportunity to figure in the world championships. But whether they would actually field two cars next year, thereby keeping the door ajar for Naren, is doubtful at this stage, particularly with the slowdown hitting global markets.