Gaurav Gill made a stunning comeback to beat overnight leader and team-mate Jan Kopecký win the VINZ International Rally of Whangarei. The opening round of the 2014 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) saw the reigning champion and Team MRF Skoda driver, Gill and co-driver Glenn Macneall, overcome a 23 second deficit to win comfortably in their Skoda Fabia S2000 car.
The opening round of the 2014 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) saw competitors head south for today’s six remaining special stages – to roads more familiar to Gill. Starting behind Kopecký for the day of double run stages, Gill was in a closely fought battle for stage honours, until the 32-year-old found advantage on the 27.43km Springfield test. Pulling out a time 25 seconds faster than his rival was all Gill needed to put his teammate behind him for the run to the finish. Defending the gain second time round, Gill added a further 1.1 seconds to win by a competitive 11.9 seconds after 220.87km of competition.
Gaurav Gill was ecstatically commented, “We’ve come close to winning here before but every year we’ve had some issue either technical or mechanical. This time it was the best way to win – to come from the back, especially being down by 23 seconds – it was a massive amount of time to make up in this situation." Speaking on yesterday's runner-up performance, he said "The most important thing is it was a level playing field for Kopecký and I. He is the European champion and I’m the defending champion so he is good benchmark for me.”
Czech Republic based Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dresler took consolation in his placing. He said, “We had a really good fight all weekend so thanks a lot to Gaurav for that because you need to be pushed by an opponent to be able to improve. I don’t have so much experience at these gravel rallies and it being the first time for me to compete so far away from home so we are happy with the result,”.
Here are the results of the Whangarei Rally:
1. Gaurav Gill/Glenn Macneall - 2:11:39.7
2. Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler - 2:11:51.7
3. Mark Pedder/Claire Dowling - 2:20:02.3