PHOTO: Germany's Fabian Kreim finished second for Skoda in his first-ever gravel rally (Geoff Ridder pic)
INDIA’S Gaurav Gill won the 2016 International Rally of Whangarei, completing a journey of 274.9 km in the MRF Tyres ŠKODA Fabia R5 car to take the lead in the 2016 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship today.
After six rain-dampened stages on the final day, Gill won by 30.4 sec over German teammate Fabian Kreim, with New Zealand’s Michael Young third in a Subaru.
Gill, the 2013 APRC champion and 2014 NZ winner, started in second place behind Kreim this morning, but despite a turbocharger problem immediately took back the lead he had held for much of yesterday.
He pushed hard to open the gap, although it was the hard-charging Young who won the first two tests.
“After I got my car fixed I knew I had to push a bit to get a comfortable gap over my teammate because anything can happen. So when we got the 30-second lead we eased our pace to come back with the car in one piece,” said Gill, who was co-driven by Australian Glenn Macneall
“It is very good to start the year and championship to have this win.”
Kreim and countryman co-driver Frank Christian were pleased with the result, focusing on learning to compete on gravel roads, rather than their placing.
Young said he and co-driver Malcolm Read were happy with third place after being last on Friday night.
“Getting third overall has made us pretty happy. After the disappointment on Friday and to be able to come back and finish on the podium is pretty awesome,” the 23-year-old said.
“I think that the speeds that we showed this weekend have been pretty impressive against the R5 cars so we’ll be looking forward to the next one now,” said the 23-year-old and 2015 APRC champion runner-up.
Only four of the international-entered cars made it to the finish, with Japan’s Makoto Kawahara focussed on just getting to the line in his Mitsubishi Lancer.
WRC Rally Argentina winner Hayden Paddon and John Kennard had a clean run in their New Zealand-championship Hyundai i20 AP4, winning all six stages of the day.
The series now moves to Australia for the second round at the International Rally of Queensland on the Sunshine Coast on 17-19 June.
1. Gill/Macneall, Skoda Fabia R5
2 . Kreim/Christian, Skoda Fabia R5 +30.4sec gap to first
3. Young/Read, Subaru Impreza WRX STi +14min10.0
4. Kawahara/Yoda, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO VIII +31min27.3
KREIM LEADS GILL BY 4.6s INTO NZ FINAL DAY
Saturday, 30 April 2016 20:57
MRF Skoda teammates Fabian Kreim of Germany and Gaurav Gill of India are set to fight a close battle to the finish of the International Rally of Whangarei after completing today’s stages just 4.6 seconds apart.
Kreim started day two of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship opening round - the series continues at the International Rally of Queensland on 17-19 June - in first place before four straight stage wins put his teammate in front by more than a minute.
GERMANY’S Fabian Kreim took the lead after two short super special stages that opened the International Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand tonight.
With little more one second separating first-placed Kreim from Team MRF teammate Gaurav Gill in second, and Scott Pedder in third, the battle for top honours promises to be hotly contested during tomorrow’s eight stages of the 2016 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship opening round.
SIMON Evans has won the 2016 Quit Forest Rally, the opening round of the Kumho Tyre Australian Rally Championship® in Nannup, Western Australia.
The win wasn’t a walk in the park for the four-time champion and co-driver Ben Searcy, who were pushed all the way by young gun Harry Bates and his co-driver John McCarthy.
Evans/Searcy and Bates/McCarthy finished the event with the same points based on their positions in both Heat One and Heat Two; however, a bonus point awarded Evans/Searcy for recording the most stage wins was enough to ensure the event victory.
The battle between the veteran Evans, 43, and tyro Bates, 20, along with other leading pilots including Justin Dowel, Molly Taylor, Mark Pedder and Adrian Coppin, will continue at the International Rally of Queensland on the Sunshine Coast on 17-19 June. Several of the Australian crews are expected also to contest the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship second round in Queensland, adding some Australia vs The Rest spice to the weekend.
MOLLY Taylor has completed more than 250 kilometres’ testing in Tasmania to prepare for her debut in the Subaru do™ Motorsport Impreza WRX STI next week.
She reported the factory-supported Subaru prepared by Les Walkden Rallying (LWR) ran faultlessly in the gravel test near Launceston and is ready for the Quit Forest Rally in Western Australia on 22-24 April. She will contest the International Rally of Queensland on the Sunshine Coast on 17-19 June.