Asia Pacific C'Ship: Gaurav Gill eyes 'Coffee Day India Rally' glory

Gill had previously won in the 2013 season and this year he has done it in emphatic style winning all five of the rallies run so far. If Gill goes on to win the sixth and final round of the 'Coffee Day India Rally' which begins here on Friday, it will be the icing on the cake.

If Gill does take the winner’s spot on the podium on Monday, then he would be the first to complete a sweep of all the rounds in the APRC.   -  M. Periasamy

Team MRF’s Gaurav Gill turned 35 today. But India’s top rallyist from Delhi gifted himself a grand birthday present nearly a month ago when he regained the Asia Pacific Rally Championship after zooming to victory in the Malaysian leg of this inter-continental motorsports event.

Gill had previously won in the 2013 season and this year he has done it in emphatic style winning all five of the rallies run so far. If Gill goes on to win the sixth and final round – the Coffee Day India Rally which begins here on Friday, it will be the icing on the cake.

Cars are categorised by horse power, and if we were to use horse racing terminology then Gill has won this year’s championship by a length and then some. His tally of 192 points dwarfs nearest competitor Team MRF’s Fabian Kreim’s 138. Competitors usually take the foot off the accelerator in dead rubbers in any sport. Keeping the motivation going when the high-stakes have already been won is a challenge.

For Gill, the Coffee Day India Rally offers multiple challenges. With the APRC returning as a full event to India after more than a decade, the last time was in the 2003 and 2004 seasons, it would present Gill a chance to win a premier international event in front of a home crowd.

He even said as much during an interaction with Sportstar a couple of days ago. “It has been my dream to compete in an APRC round in my home country. I have been waiting to do this for so many years. This is going to be the biggest event in Indian motorsport since Formula One,” Gill had said then.

But a bigger challenge would be gunning for Cody Crocker’s achievements. The Australian, who won the titles four years in a row, also did it in grand style. Crocker’s 2006 win included six wins in seven rounds (five-in-a-row), in 2007 he won five of seven (four-in-a-row), 2008 four out of seven and in 2009 Crocker again had a run of six wins in-a-row in a seven-round season.

If Gill does take the winner’s spot on the podium on Monday, then he would be the first to complete a sweep of all the rounds in the APRC. The Coffee Day India Rally, organised by the Motorsports Club of Chikkamagaluru, also doubles up as Round-4 of the MRF FMSCI Indian Rally Championship.

While matters are settled in the APRC, it is much more open in the IRC where Team Mahindra Adventure’s London-based Amitrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik) is on top of the leaderboard. Giving close competition is Mangaluru’s Arjun Rao Aroor (Satish Rajagopal) who is just a point shy of Ghosh; the two have won each won a round.

With Gill, who drove for Mahindra Adventure in the previous three rounds, not in the fray here, it opens up possibilities for both Ghosh and Rao. In all, 10 crews in the International section and 40 in the domestic championship took part in a ceremonial start here on Friday evening. Main action starts on Saturday with the Super Special Stage.