Sunday, 30 October 2016 22:27
GAURAV Gill clinched the 2016 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship by winning the Malaysian Rally today.
Gill (India) and co-driver Glenn Macneall (Australia), in a Team MRF Tyres Skoda R5, built their lead from the very first stage before simply maintaining the gap after their fellow competitors suffered misfortunes over the two-day event around Kota Tinggi.
Gill claimed his second APRC crown and helped Skoda score the manufacturers championship.
“I couldn’t ask for more. This year has been awesome and we’ve worked really hard,” Gill said.
“The car has been perfect, the team has been perfect and we’ve had the perfect tyres and perfect setup at every rally which has helped us to get to where we are. I can’t thank the team enough.
“Malaysia is one of the most difficult rallies of the year, it always has been, so it’s always a challenge to arrive at the end. Glenn has been a great co-driver and he’s been giving me tips on how to drive all these years so it’s been an amazing journey and I’m very thankful.”
Jari Ketomaa and co-driver Mikko Lukka of Finland celebrated with their Mitsubishi Mirage team after claiming the runner-up spot.
Rounding out the podium in third was Japanese driver Yuya Sumiyama in a Cusco prepared Subaru, joined by co-driver Takahiro Yasui, who moved up to third following their teammates’ retirement earlier in the day.
Indian driver Sanjay Takale, also in a Cusco Subaru, finished in fourth and was overwhelmed with his result at the notoriously difficult event near Johor Bahru.
Takale also secured first overall in the national Malaysian Rally Championship, ahead of local rallying legend Karamjit Singh.
After retiring on the first day with a gearbox issue and re-joining under the rally rules for day two, German driver Fabian Kreim claimed fifth with his co-driver Frank Christian in their Team MRF Skoda Fabia R5.
Despite being in his first year of gravel rallying Kreim has shown he has raw speed and has managed to claim multiple podium places, adding to the significant points margin in the manufacturers championship which Skoda has now claimed.
It was a sad end to a promising rally for New Zealanders Mike Young and Malcolm Read in their Cusco EZY Racing Subaru Impreza. The duo ended up in a deep ditch during the first stage of the morning and despite their best efforts, could not get it unstuck and were forced to retire from a potential podium place.
“It was such a simple thing. The corner didn't have a ditch to start with but suddenly the ditch came and we just slipped in. The car has absolutely no damage so while we’re gutted about retiring, we can be happy that the car is ready for the next round and also that our speed was good,” said Young.
The next and final round of the APRC is Rally of India, on 10-11 December near Bangalore, where both Gill and Takale will get to drive in front of their friends, family and local fans. 
Results - top five:
1.     Gill / Macneall
2.     Ketomaa / Lukka
3.     Sumiyama / Yasui
4.     Takale / Takeshita
5.     Kreim / Christian


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