DAY 1 OF INTERNATIONAL RALLY OF WHANGAREI
Whangarei (New Zealand), April 29: Expectedly, Team MRF-SKODA topped the time charts with debutant Fabian Kreim of Germany nosing ahead of Gaurav Gill by 1.2 seconds pending investigation at the end of the Super Special Stage as the International Rally of Whangarei, which is also the first round of the 2016 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, commenced here on Friday.
Kreim, the 23-year old making his APRC debut, was quicker than Gill by 2.4 seconds in the first of the two runs of the 1.45 Kms long Super Special Stage, but the Indian star made up with a blistering drive in the second outing that saw him reduce the leeway to 1.2.
However, there could yet be a twist to the results of the Super Special Stage. Gill, during the first run, came across the stalled car of Mike Young and was told to stop before asked to proceed.
The incident cost the 34-year old Delhi-based Gill precious seconds, and the matter is under investigation, and a favourable decision could see the Indian climb to the top.
Pending a final decision, the difference between the two MRF-SKODA team-mates, both in the Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia R5, is negligible with eight Special Stages to be run before the event concludes after completing another six Stages.
Kreim, partnered by compatriot Frank Christian, clocked 54.3 seconds in the first run of the Super Special Stage that followed the Ceremonial Flag-off, while Gill, with Australian Glenn Macneall in the co-driver’s seat, was 2.4 seconds slower.
However, Gill, who was quickest during the morning’s shakedown held at the same venue with a time of 48.8 seconds, went faster in the next run clocking 49.9 as against Kreim’s 51.1. The 23-year old Kreim thus provisionally topped with a cumulative timing of one minute, 45.4 seconds while Gill had 1:46.6, with Australia’s Scott Pedder in a Subaru Impreza WRX STi third in 1:51.4.
Incidentally, in the second run, Gill went faster than local star Hayden Paddon who last week had won the World Rally Championship round in Argentina, and is driving a tubro-charged (without restrictor) Hyundai i20 which enjoys a 100bhp advantage over Gill’s Skoda Fabia R5.
“During the first run, we were stopped as Mike Young who had started before us, was stranded on a right-hander. As soon as we stopped, we were asked to proceed. That cost us time. The matter is under investigation,” said Gill, the APRC champion in 2013.
As for the Special Stages, Gill, winner here in 2014, said: “We will be the first car out and so, will be sweeping the Stages. There have been no rains which would have helped the top layer of the route to pack up firmly. Right now, it is very dry and dusty, but it is the same for all competitors. This is the first round of the Championship and we are aiming for a good result.”
The results (Provisional – Super Special Stage): 1. Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian (Team MRF-SKODA, Skoda Fabia R5) (01minute, 45.4secs); 2. Gaurav Gill / Glenn Macneall (Team MRF-SKODA, Skoda Fabia R5) (01:46.6); 3. Scott Pedder / Dale Moscatt (Team Pedders Suspension, Subaru Impreza WRX STi) (01:51.4).