After Arjuna high, Gill eyes top-five finish in WRC 2

Gaurav Gill will fancy his chances as most of the stages in the Rally of Turkey will be run on gravel, something that he relishes.

will be competing as a registered driver for the first time in the Rally of Turkey.   -  M. Periasamy

Gaurav Gill, the ace rally driver who recently became the first Indian motorsports personality to be awarded the Arjuna award, on Friday said he is eyeing a top-five finish in next week’s Rally of Turkey, marking the beginning of his second stint in the FIA World Rally Championship 2.

The Rally of Turkey will be held from September 12 to 15. The three-time APRC and six-time INRC champion will be driving a 1.6 Turbo Ford Fiesta R5 that has been developed by M-Sport.

“I am not the one who sits on my laurels. I have not done any testing on the car yet which is not an ideal situation but I will try to make the most of the time we have. Anything less than a top-five finish will be a disappointment,” said the JK Tyre Motorsport backed Gill, who recently ended his long-time association with MRF.

Gill, 37, will fancy his chances as most of the stages in the Rally of Turkey will be run on gravel, something that he relishes.

“We will carefully pick and choose the rallies that I will participate in this year, keeping in mind the car, the terrain and my strengths. The good thing is that as I am used to the extreme heat in India and it is expected to be very hot in Turkey,” he said.

“The temperature inside the car could go as high as 50-60 degree celsius but I am prepared for it. I have spent a lot of time in the sauna wearing my overalls and that should be help me combat the heat. In addition to that, I have trained myself by going for long runs in the afternoon heat of Delhi,” said Gill, who is expected to take part in three rounds this year.

In WRC-2 2018, Gill took part in four rallies, one each in Italy, Finland, Wales and Australia as an unregistered driver. He won 11 stages despite facing challenges, underlining his prowess and skill at the top level.

He will be competing as a registered driver for the first time and will be picking up championship points.

The Rally of Turkey will see the drivers cover a total distance of over 988.50 kms with 310.10 kms earmarked for 17 special stages. Most of the stages will be gravel with few of the stages running on concrete tiles and tarmac.

Gill has also been aiming to compete in the iconic Dakar Rally, something he expects to do in the near future.

“Not this year but can definitely look at the following edition,” added Gill who drives a Mahindra XUV 500 in the national championship.