Gill scanning new horizons

This story is from the Business-Standard India, and from an interview prior to the Karnataka 1000 Rally.

Having won the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) last weekend, Gaurav Gill believes that his motorsport career is at the cross-roads but hopes that he will be able to move to the next level of rallying next season.

While another season in the APRC next year with Team MRF is very much on the cards for Gill, the Team MRF ace hinted at driving in Europe as part of the Skoda programme in the super fast Fabia S2000.

Also, with the new World Rally Championship regulations permitting use of different makes of tyres, Gill, 31, admitted that it opened doors for a possible MRF entry though he hastened to add that he was yet to speak about this with the Chennai-based company. “MRF have been very supportive all along and their tyres contributed a lot to my APRC success. Now that the WRC has opened up on tyres, yes, it is a possibility, but I have not yet spoken about this with MRF,” said Gill in an informal chat with the media here Friday on the sidelines of the ceremonial start of the Karnataka 1000 Rally in which he is participating as a member of Mahindra Adventure Rally team, driving a XUV 500.

Gill feels he has matured as a driver even as he “discovered hidden reserves of speed” in the course of the 2013 season when he won two of the six rounds and thanked his Finnish teammate Esapekka Lappi for pushing him through the stages.

Reviewing the just concluded APRC season Gill said: “Obviously, it is the biggest win of my career so far but it is just a start and a bit delayed as I had come close to winning the title on a couple of occasions.” “I have to thank my teammate Lappi for pushing me all through the year and I have to thank him for helping me up my speed that I didn’t know I had.

“In Europe, they say that Lappi’s middle name is ‘God’ because of his raw speed and obviously he was my reference point. I am happy that I was quicker than him in some of the rallies,” Gill said. “I had not driven the S2000 for six months before the first round in New Zealand where I had problems with the drive shaft. In New Caledonia, I was in control and Lappi had a big off and then I won again in Japan where he did not finish due to suspension problems.

“Throughout the year, I drove on the limit and at least five per cent quicker than I did last year. The team also appreciated my maturity as I realised that it was important to win the rallies rather than just the Stages,” he added.

Gill was also all praise for the Skoda Fabia S2000 which he described as among the “best rally cars” ever built, but would like to spend more time in the car like Lappi who is part of the Skoda programme in Europe and gets to not only test but also participate in many rallies.

“I think the S2000 is the finest rally car built. It is very quick and responsive, but unlike Lappi who takes part in European rallies besides testing the car, I get to drive it only before a rally. Ideally, I would like to drive it at least once in three or four weeks to be in touch,” said Gill.

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