Gill to lead MRF-SKODA challenge in 2016 APRC series
Chennai, April 15: Indian tyre giant MRF in partnership with Czech car manufacturer SKODA will be fielding a two-car team spearheaded by India’s Gaurav Gill and his long-time co-driver Glenn Macneall (Australia) in the 2016 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship which opens with the International Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand scheduled for - .
The second MRF-SKODA entry is Germany’s Fabian Kreim with compatriot Frank Christian in the co-driver’s seat. Both Gill, winner of the Rally of Whangarei in 2014, and Kreim will be driving the Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia R5.
While for 34-year old Delhi-based Gill, who in 2013 became the first Indian to win the APRC title it will be a debut run in the Skoda R5, Kreim has had considerable seat time as he is the current driver for the Skoda Auto Deutschland team in the German Rally Championship where the 23-year old finished second in 2015 with five wins.
Looking ahead to the event and the season, Gill said: “It will be a fresh challenge for me. The car is new which I have never driven before, and a new team-mate who has had considerable experience in the R5 which is very different from the R4 that I was driving. The previous two seasons haven’t been good for me, but I want to put all that behind and focus on the 2016 championship.”
Kreim, who replaces 2015 APRC champion Swede Pontus Tidemand, said in a statement: “I am absolutely delighted to be able to take on the challenge of the APRC with SKODA. All the rallies are obviously completely new to me and I will have a lot to learn. However, I hope I can establish myself among the front-runners and challenge for race wins as quickly as possible at these international events.”
Mr Arun Mammen, Managing Director, MRF Ltd, said: “We are looking forward to another exciting APRC season and defend our titles. APRC is an ideal platform for us to showcase us products that are of truly international standards as could be gauged by our team’s success in the championship the past few years with our tyres performing exceedingly well on different terrains and in difficult conditions. We are confident that our run of success will continue this year also.”
SKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabanek said: “We want to continue our winning run in the APRC and are delighted to have a talented young driver at the wheel of the Fabia R5, in the form of Fabian Kreim. We are giving him a great chance to continue his development and gain valuable experience on gravel.”
The 2016 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship calendar is: -May 1 (New Zealand), (Australia), (China), (Japan), (Malaysia) and December 10- (Chikkamagaluru, India).