Gaurav Gill in his MRF Tyres Team Skoda leads Rally Hokkaido by 30 seconds after 6 stages. Gill and Proton driver Alister McRae were neck and neck for the early stages, then Gill lost time with a 10 second penalty after leaving the first morning service late after diff problems and a broken engine mount.
The Indian driver quickly made up that time again on SS4 and then on SS5 the long 28 kilometre New Kunneywa stage, Gill moved ahead of McRae by a massive 30 seconds. “We had a real push – there was nothing left in me or the car. Its given us a slight cushion and can now take it a little easier in the rough afternoon stages” said Gill at the lunchtime service.
Proton sits 2nd and 3rd in APRC with Finland’s Juha Salo one minute off the lead. The Cusco Japan Group N cars of Sumiyama (Mitsubishi) and Muta (Subaru) are 4th and 5th. Having a good run on his first time in Hokkaido is New Caledonian Daniel Palau, 6th in APRC.
After 5 stages seventh overall and first of the two-wheel drive cars was Michael Young, that was until SS6 Rikebetsu where the young kiwi went straight on in the slippery mud after the watersplash, joining a stack of cars that had already crashed off down a bank from the first running of the stage.
With Young out Japan’s Akira Bamba moved into first in two-wheel drive and now a clear advantage in the APRC Junior Cup. Bamba only needs to finish the event to secure the cup
for the second time.
Bamba is coming under pressure from his team Karamjit Singh in the battle for two-wheel drive honours. Singh had a puncture in Stage 2 loosing over one and half-minutes, but has gradually fought back and after six stages is only 14 seconds behind Bamba.
Follow the action on www.rallysafe.com.au/aprc or www.rally-hokkaido.com