Gill looks set to sweep all titles in APRC

"We came over a crest and into a left-hander. I think I was carrying too much speed into the corner and crashed into the stone. Unfortunate, but that is the nature of motorsport. I will be driving tomorrow and hope to score some leg points," said Team MRF’s Fabian Kreim later.

Gaurav Gill kicks up some dirt as he takes in a sharp corner in the APRC Coffee Day India Rally at Chikkamagaluru on Sunday.   -  S.V. Sriram

The story of the day should have been, can Team MRF’s Fabian Kreim (co-driver Frank Christian) hold on to his slender 0.7-second lead over champion and teammate Gaurav Gill (Glenn Macneal) and maybe spoil his party?

But the German and his car lost an argument with a rock on Sunday’s Special Stage 4 in Chandrapura that sent his Skoda R5 spinning out of the day’s race in the Coffee Day India Rally, the concluding part of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship 2016.

Not that it would have mattered anyway as Gill, driving the same car, had already opened up a handsome 19.4-second lead by then; 13s in SS2 (held at Kumargode) and 6.4s in SS3 (Chettanahalli).

“We came over a crest and into a left-hander. I think I was carrying too much speed into the corner and crashed into the stone. Unfortunate, but that is the nature of motorsport. I will be driving tomorrow and hope to score some leg points,” said Kreim later.

When the dust finally settled – there was a lot of it flying around with the cars ripping through the dusty roads and screeching round the corners – Gill was where he wanted to be, at the top.

With only Mike Young (co-driver Malcolm Read) and Sanjay Takale (Noriko Takeshita) – both of Cusco Racing – being the others to finish the day’s engagements of 12 stages spanning 159.18kms, Gill looks set to sweep all titles on offer in this year’s APRC.

Also finishing by the wayside was Cusco Racing’s Japanese driver Yuya Sumiyama (Takahiro Yasui), who managed to hold on till SS6 before mechanical problems had the final say.

Gill now is ahead of the second-placed New Zealander Young by 7 minutes and 33.6 seconds while Pune’s Takale is a further 10:00.1s behind.

“We had no problems with our car as such. The speeds were quite slow due to the nature of the route. Though we have a good lead, the R5 is built for speed and I have to be in my rhythm. So, there is nothing like easing off. May be, I can drive 97 per cent instead of 100,” said Gill.

While the APRC has a settled look about it, Karna Kadur (Nikhil Pai) is making things interesting in the INRC Overall standings.

The Bengaluru based Yokohama 2K driver has whittled down his first day’s deficit to Kolkata’s Amrittajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik) of Mahindra Adventure to just over 7 seconds after six Special Stages on Sunday.

Kadur also led the INRC 2000 class where he was ahead of Dr. Bikku Babu (Milen George) by over three minutes.

The results (provisional, after Leg-1):

APRC: 1. Gaurav Gill / Glenn Macneall (Team MRF) (2hrs, 42mins, 32.8secs); 2. Mike Young / Malcolm Read (Cusco Racing) (2:50:06.4); 3. Sanjay Takale / Noriko Takeshita (Cusco Racing) (3:00:06.5).

IRC: 1. Takale / Takeshita (1:12:08.1); 2. Amol Satoskar / Dinesh (1:28:01.4); 3. Shafraz Junaid / Akhry Ameer (1:28:28.6).

INRC Overall: 1. Amittrajit Ghosh / Ashwin Naik (Mahindra Adventure) (1:19:34.6); 2. Karna Kadur / Nikhil Pai (Team Yokohama 2K) (1:19:42.2); 3. Bikku Babu / Milen George (1:21:17.1).

INRC 2000: 1. Kadur / Pai (01:19:42.2); 2. Bikku Babu / George (1:21:17.1); 3. Philippos Mathaii / Harish K.N. (1:30:37.0).

FMSCI Cup: 1. Michu Ganapathy / Venu Ramesh Kumar (1:26:34.4); 2. Jacob K.J. / Manoj Mohanan (1:26:57.9); 3. Veeresh Prasad / Shahid Salman (1:28:44.2).