Johor, Malaysia: India’s Gaurav Gill (co-driver Glenn Macneall), driving a Skoda Fabia S2000 for Team MRF and enjoying a 10-minute overnight lead, expectedly won the Malaysian Rally, the fourth round of the FIA-Asia Pacific Rally Championship here Sunday.
With championship leader and team-mate Jan Kopecky (Pavel Dressler) having retired Saturday with a broken rear suspension, the field was wide open for Gill, and he took no chances and brought his car safely over the finish line.
Gill, the 2013 APRC champion, drove quite conservatively by his lofty standards while Kopecky, rejoining the Rally under the Super Rally format, chased leg points in a bid to maintain his position on the leaderboard.
Kopecky, the European champion, who led Gill 105-66 going into the fourth round of the APRC, was the quickest in five of the six Special Stages run Sunday.
In distant second was Australia’s Mark Pedder (Claire Dowling), piloting a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X while Jun Xu (Sheng Liu) from China completed the podium, also in a Skoda Fabia S2000.
Much of the drama was witnessed Saturday. Besides Kopecky retiring with a broken suspension, Gill had to stop mid-stage in SS-1 to to remove grass from the radiator, and had a spin, Pedder nearly rolled and had no brakes, Jan Xu also ended up with no brakes and hit a tree and Sanjay Takale had a gentle roll but got stuck though he managed to continue.
Provisional classification (APRC): Gaurav Gill / Glenn Macneall (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia S2000) 1 (03hrs, 14mins, 23.2secs); Mark Pedder / Claire Dowling (Lancer Evo X) 2 (03:14:25.7); Jun Xu / Sheng Liu (Skoda Fabia S2000) 3 (03:14:47.4); Sanjay Takle / Sean Gregory (Subaru Impreza) 4 (03:28:44.8).