Coffee Day India Rally: Kreim outpaces Gill

Gaurav Gill was last out of the blocks but his timing of 2 minutes 18.5 seconds in the 2.12km circuit was just a shade under teammate Fabian Kreim’s 2:17.8.

Gaurav Gill

Team MRF's Gaurav Gill along with co-driver Glenn Macneall rally during the Super Special Stage at Chikkamagaluru.   -  Special Arrangement

This coffee producing town in Karnataka has always had an affinity for rallying and the townsfolk turn up in large numbers to cheer the rallyists.

Saturday was no different with more than 10,000 people making their way to the Amber Valley School, where the Super Special Stage of the Coffee Day India Rally, the concluding part of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, was held.

The object of their attention was Team MRF’s Gaurav Gill. But the Indian had to play second fiddle to teammate Fabian Kreim, who was the day's fastest.

Gill was last out of the blocks but his timing of 2 minutes 18.5 seconds in the 2.12km circuit laid out over the school’s football field was just a shade under Kreim’s 2:17.8.

The duo though were well clear of Cusco Racing’s Yuya Sumiyama (2:23.4) in third.

Gunning for a sixth straight win in this year’s championship, Gill had brushed aside suggestions that he was under pressure to deliver in front of his home fans earlier.

"I am here to do my job," he said. "This is going to be one of the slowest rallies of the year. The narrow plantation roads and twisty circuits are going to demand a lot out of the drivers. The cars are also going to take a beating.

"There are about a 1000 corners requiring a 1000 gear shifts. The co-driver has to be spot on with his calls since one corner flows into the next. So, I will be driving totally on his calls.

"Basically, first and second gear run will put a lot of strain on the engine. And the brakes will get quite heated too. So, it could boil down to reliability of the car. The rains could also give it another twist with conditions turning slippery," said Gill.

He also touched upon the year gone by. "It has been a tough year. The switch to the R5 model took some getting used to. It was new learning curve. We spent considerable time testing in New Zealand."

Meanwhile, the other leading drivers -- Kreim, Mike Young, Yuya Sumiyama and Sanjay Takale -- prepare to challenge Gill over the next two days.

Gill, at one minute and 28.3 seconds in a 1.6km circuit, was fastest in the shakedown (test run).

In the MRF FMSCI Indian Rally Championship, Amittrajit Ghosh and Ashwin Naik took a slender lead over leaders Arjun Rao Aroor and Satish Rajagopal in the overall category while Dean Mascarenhas and Shanmuga S. N. topped the INRC 2000 class. Vikram Gowda and Uday Kumar K. V. led the FMSCI Cup category. Sanjay Takale, who is also taking part in the IRC class, was the fastest in this category.

The results (provisional, Leg-1, Section-1):-

APRC: 1. Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian (Team MRF) (2 mins, 17.8secs); 2. Gaurav Gill / Glenn Macneall (Team MRF) (2:18.5); 3. Yuya Sumiyama / Takahiro Yasui (Cusco Racing) (2:23.4).

IRC: 1. Sanjay Takale / Noriko Takeshita (2:28.0); 2. Younus Illyas / Nitin Jacob (2:42.8); 3. Ritesh Guttedar / Sheeraz Ahmed (02:45.4).

INRC Overall: 1. Amittrajit Ghosh / Ashwin Naik (Mahindra Adventure) 2:37.9; 2. Arjun Rao / Satish Rajagopal (2:38.9); 3. Sunny Sidhu / Musa Sherif (Mahindra Adventure) (2:40.0).

INRC 2000: 1. Dean Mascarenhas / Shanmuga S.N. (2:40.8); 2. Karna Kadur / Nikhil Pai (Yokohama 2K) (2:42.6); 3. Rahul Kanthraj / Vivek Bhatt (Yokohama 2K) (2:42.7).

FMSCI Cup: 1. Vikram Gowda / Uday Kumar K.V. (2:49.5); 2. Michu Ganapathy S.C. / Venu Ramesh Kumar (2:52.8); 3. Fabid Ahmer / Arjun Dheerendra (2:55.6).