Gaurav Gill: 'Rally driving is tougher than F1'

Armed with a turbo-charged Skoda Fabia R5, Gaurav Gill roared to his second Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) title recently. The Indian, who drove the Skoda Fabia S2000 (naturally aspirated engine) previously, welcomed the change in machine.

Team MRF driver Gaurav Gill during the launch event of the Coffee Day India Rally at Bengaluru on Tuesday.   -  Ashwin Achal

Armed with a turbo-charged Skoda Fabia R5, Gaurav Gill roared to his second Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) title recently. The Indian, who drove the Skoda Fabia S2000 (naturally aspirated engine) previously, welcomed the change in machine.

“I’m thankful to Team MRF for giving me the chance to drive the R5. They are so expensive, and are made in very few numbers,” Gill said here on Tuesday.

Asked to compare this triumph to his maiden APRC victory in 2013, Gill replied, “Winning for the first time is difficult, but winning it again is more difficult because everyone wants to beat you.”

The 34-year-old stated that the common man can better relate to rallying, when compared to the more glamourous world of Formula One. “Every person can relate to a rally car. A Formula One car is like a space car - it is super specialised. A rally car is specialised too, but it at least looks like something you drive at home. A person who owns a Volkswagen Polo sees the same car in rallies,” he said.

“The skill level required to drive in a rally is far higher when compared to track racing. In racing, you go around the circuit, and you know that every turn will be more or less the same. But in a rally, the same turn will be different the next time you take it. So as a driver, you need to be versatile and very skilled to control the car,” Gill added.

The Delhi driver sounded pleased to enter the final round of the 2016 APRC season, to be held at Chikkamagaluru, as champion. The weather conditions at Chikkamagaluru can pose a challenge, but Gill has been through worse in the past. “There won’t be much crosswind at Chikkamagaluru, and the humidity will be high. This means that the cabin temperature will be very, very high. In Malaysia, the cabin temperature can sometimes exceed 60 degrees Celsius. We wear four layers of fire-proof clothing, so I can lose up to 7 kilos of water weight in one day,” he said.