Team MRF driver Gaurav Gill has finished the first day of the Hokkaido Rally in Japan with a commanding 49.6 second lead in his Skoda Fabia S2000.
The Indian entered the fifth round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship confident of success in the event, and so far things have gone to plan. In the absence of their championship leader and their team-mate, Chris Atkinson, Gill and co-driver, Glenn Macneall, finished the first day more than two minutes clear of their nearest APRC rival, Scotland’s Alister McRae in a Proton.
After an early battle with McRae, Gill moved ahead on the fifth stage, the long 28 kilometre New Kunneywa test. “We had a real push – there was nothing left in me or the car,” Gill said. “It’s given us a slight cushion and we can now take it a little easier in the rough stages.”
Team Manager, Lane Heenan, was happy with Gill’s performance over the first day. “Gaurav wasn’t taking too many risks and was driving to the conditions, saving the car as the roads cut up badly in the afternoon,” Heenan said. “We’ve had no real issues, other than a broken radiator fan, although last night he had to drive the Super Special Stage with only the normal headlights, as the spot lights played up on the start line.”
Conditions over the first day of the rally have been warm and dry.
As expected, both the set-up of the car and the MRF Tyres were ideal for the conditions.
he second points-scoring car for Team MRF, the Subaru of New Zealander Brian Green, is lying fourth of the APRC runners.
The final day of the Hokkaido Rally features a further seven stages, including the long 29.11km New Ashoro Long stage, which is run twice.
2012 Hokkaido Rally – APRC 5 Results after Day 1
1. G. Gill, Skoda Fabia S2000, 1h11m51.0s
2. T. Arai, Subaru Impreza, +49.6s
3. J. Salo, Proton Satria S2000, +1m16.5s
4. Y. Sumiyama, Mitsubishi Lancer, +1m27.3s
5. A. McRae, Proton Satria S2000, +2m15.6s