Pontus Tidemand and co-driver
Emil Axelsson led a 1-2 finish for Team MRF as the Swedes swept to their third
win of the season by claiming the title in the Malaysian Rally, the fourth
round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, in Johor Bahru in Malaysia on
August 16, 2015.
The 24-year old Tidemand,
driving the Skoda Fabia S2000, finished one minute, 56.5 seconds ahead of
team-mate, India’s Gaurav Gill (co-driver Glenn Macneall).
Gill comfortably won the first
round of Asia Cup, sparing over 19 minutes to Fan Fan (Junwei Fang) from China
who drove the Mitsubishi Evo EX for South-East Motor team.
Tidemand, making his APRC
debut, had triumphed in Australia and New Zealand, and this win took his tally
to 147 points while 33-year old Delhi-based Gill, winner of the first round in
New Caledonia, moved to 104.
With just two more rounds of
APRC to be run in Japan (Sept 18-20) and China (Oct 30-Nov 1) and a maximum of
78 points on offer, Tidemand has taken a stranglehold on the championship
leaving Gill a mathematical chance of claiming the title he had won in 2013.
Picture caption: Pontus
Tidemand (right) and co-driver Emil Axelsson of Team MRF celebrate their
victory in the Malaysian Rally, the fourth round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally
Championship, in Johor Bahru
Leading by 01:19.9 overnight,
Tidemand kept the throttle down on Sunday when six more Stages were run over
much shorter distance than on the previous day as the Swede was quickest in
five loops while Gill, driving in heavy rains, took the last Stage of the day.
“I had a good day today and
absolutely no problems with the car. I was new to these conditions and it was
very challenging. But I am happy that I survived and brought the car home
safely. We have two more rounds in Japan and China, and I looking forward to it.
Like I said, all this is new to me, but I want to do well,” said Tidemand.
An obviously disappointed
Gill, winner here last year, had problems with the rear differential of his
Skoda Fabia S2000 besides overheating and loss of grip.
“The rear differential stopped
working during the first loop and there was no grip. So, I couldn’t drive
normally. Then we had heavy rains during the second loop, but we were quicker
in the last Stage.
“Overall, it was the worst
weekend of my life with all the problems we had due to grass getting into the
radiator grill and all that. I now look forward to the remaining two rounds,”
said Gill who did not participate in the conventional champagne ceremony as a
mark of respect for Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India president Bharath
Raj who passed away in Bengaluru on August
Picture caption: Pontus
Tidemand (extreme right) and co-driver Emil Axelsson, winners of the Malaysian
Rally, the fourth round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, in Johor
Bahru on Aug 16, 2015, pose with second-placed team-mates Gaurav Gill (second
from left) and his co-driver Glenn Macneall (extreme left).
MRF team boss Lane Heenan
said: “It was very tough on the cars, but we are happy that both Tidemand and
Gill finished. I think it was after very long time that both MRF cars finished
here in Malaysia.”
Provisional classification (after Leg-2):
Championship: Pontus Tidemand / Emil Axelsson (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia S2000) 1
(03hrs, 05mins, 11.5secs); Gaurav Gill / Glenn Macneall (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia
S2000) 2 (03:07:08.0).
Asia Cup (Round-1): Gaurav
Gill / Glenn Macneall (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia S2000) 1 (03:07:08.0); Fan Fan /
Junwei Fang (South-East Motor, Evo EX) 2 (03:26:58.8); Genki Takeuchi / Naoki
Kase (Cusco Racing, Subaru Impreza) 3 (03:32:28.1).
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