India’s Gaurav Gill of Team
MRF Tyres made the most of the misfortune to overnight leader and team-mate Ole
Christian Veiby and turned back a 33-second deficit to win the International
Rally of Whangarei, the first round of FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship in
Whangarei in New Zealand on April 30, 2017.
APRC Rally of Whangarei
1st round of FIA Asia-Pacific Rally
Gill/Prévot (IND/BEL), ŠKODA
FABIA R5, 2:35:06.8 h
Veiby/ Skjarmoen (NOR/NOR),
ŠKODA FABIA R5, + 2:02.8 min
Blomberg/Andersson (SWE/SWE), Mitsubishi Mirage, + 17:45.5 min
Takahashi/Nakamura (JPN/JPN), Subaru Impreza WRX STi, + 28:17.3 min
Abhilash/Gowda (IND/IND), Subaru Impreza WRX STi, + 37:42.9 min
Veiby (co-driver Stig Rune
Skjærmoen), who eventually finished second behind Gill, led by 23 seconds at
the half-way mark after first loop of three Special Stages, but suffered brake
failure on his Skoda Fabia R5 in the very first Stage after service which cost
him one minute, 22.6 seconds.
The 20-year old Norwegian was
then docked a penalty of one minute, 30 seconds for reporting nine minutes late
to the start of the next Stage which effectively ruined his chances of scoring
a win in his maiden APRC appearance.
CALENDAR OF THE 2017 FIA ASIA-PACIFIC RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP (APRC)
Rally of Whangarei– New Zealand
Rally Canberra - Australia
Rally Hokkaido - Japan
Rally of India
The opening round of the 2017
FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) took place around the host city of
Whangarei on New Zealand’s Northland. Heavy rainfall in the forests in the
north of Auckland made the special stages on the first leg of the rally very
slippery. “It was raining cats and dogs. The changing conditions of mud and
rain made it slippery in places, when others were really grippy. Sometimes it
was raining so heavily the wipers couldn’t clear all the water away – it was
hard to see at all,” commented Ole Christian Veiby, who took the lead after the
first leg of the rally with more than a half minute gap.
Teammate Gaurav Gill meanwhile
was struggling with the setup of his ŠKODA FABIA R5. By the end of the first
day, he changed the shock absorbers, modified the differential settings and was
ready to fight back for the lead. The weather improved on the final day of the
rally and a thrilling and close battle for the victory evolved. On Sunday
morning Gill was fastest on two stages, Veiby fought back with one scratch
time. With three more stages to go, Veiby was still 23 seconds ahead of Gill.
In SS 14 Veiby had a brake issue and lost a lot of time in the stage. After a
roadside repair, he checked in late on the time control for the next stage, got
a time penalty and dropped to second place behind teammate Gill.
At the finish in Whangarei,
Ole Christian Veiby was already looking forward to the next rally: “What an
experience. I never thought I would be leading most of the rally, can’t wait
for the rest of the APRC season!” Gaurav Gill and Stéphane Prévot celebrated their
win on the podium in Whangarei after a tense and thrilling battle with their
young Norwegian teammates.
Reigning champion Gill
(co-driver Stephane Prevot), also in a Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia R5,
seized the chance and cruised home sparing two minutes, 02.8 seconds to Veiby.
In the process, Gill notched his third New Zealand crown and seventh APRC win
in a row, following his clean sweep of six last year when he took his second
Delhi-based Gill was obviously
elated at his success, though he admitted that he would have enjoyed the win
much more had Veiby not suffered brake failure.
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