KOCHI, INDIA: There will be a new car, a Mitsubishi Evo-10, waiting for Gaurav Gill in Australia on Sunday and the Team MRF ace is confident of pushing it to victory in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
“I’m very confident now, of course, I’m looking to win the title,” said Gaurav on Friday. “Our first two rounds, in Australia and New Zealand, are new to me. But even if I don’t win in Australia, I certainly hope to be on the podium there. And I’m confident of doing very well in the four Asian legs where I’ve driven before.”
Team MRF, which will have two cars this time with the seasoned Japanese Katsuhiko Taguchi being the other driver, will open its campaign in the seven-round APRC in Queensland on May 9. The team had three cars last year.
“I’ve not tried the Evo-10 but it’s a much more advanced car, a little different in the differentials and rear suspension and tweaked up a bit,” said the 28-year-old Gill who became the first Indian to win an APRC event with his triumph in Indonesia last year. “We’ll see what the cars are capable of in the first round and then work our way.”
Gaurav is also driving in the Production Cars World Rally Championship, under Bangalore’s Team Sidvin India banner, this year and a seventh place finish in the recent Rally of Portugal has given him new confidence.
“I’m much more faster and definitely smoother now,” said the Delhi-based driver who will be leaving for Queensland on Sunday.
But there is a world of difference between the World Championship and the APRC.
“The World Championship is a very difficult type of terrain; you have to be a lot more clean. Also, it’s much longer, lasts three days, it’s more about getting your car to the end,” said Gaurav, who will also be looking at the APRC’s Asia Cup honours while driving in Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia.
“The APRC is all about going fast.”
That shouldn’t be a problem for Gaurav who was a National racing champion a few years ago before moving into rallies.
But Gaurav will have a tough time, said Antony Rodricks, Team MRF’s motorsport head.
“Gaurav doesn’t have miles. Australian Cody Crocker, the champion the last three years, has done about two lakh competitive miles in rallies. Gaurav has only about two thousand,” said Mr. Rodricks before leaving for Australia.
“He may win a rally here and there but we don’t expect Gaurav to win the APRC title this year. May be, next year.”
The series began in New Caledonia on April 10 but with none of the APRC drivers picking a point, the championship virtually stars in Queensland.
Surely, Gaurav will be happy with that.