The fifth round of the 2016 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) was held in Malaysia last weekend and Gaurav Gill was at his dominant best sealing the driver's championship title. The ace Indian driver sealed his fifth consecutive win for the season and secured the APRC drivers' championship one round early. Gill's victory has also helped team MRF Skoda claim the manufacturers' championship title with one round still to spare this season.
Gaurav Gill dominated the fifth round of the FIA APRC at the Malaysian Rally in his Team MRF Skoda Fabia R5, the rally prepped version of the road-going Fabia hatchback. Gill with his Australian co-driver Glenn Macneall built their lead from stage before one itself and later managed to simply maintain the gap over the next stages. What also helped was the misfortunes of their rivals over the two-day event around Kota Tinggi.
Enthusiastic about his victory, Gaurav Gill commented, "I couldn't ask for more. This year has been awesome and we've worked really hard. The car has been perfect, the team has been perfect, and we've had the perfect tyres and perfect setup at every rally which has helped us to get to where we are. I can't thank the team enough."
Adding further, he said, "Malaysia is one of the most difficult rallies of the year, it always has been, so it's always a challenge to arrive at the end. Glenn [Macneall] has been a great co-driver and he's been giving me tips on how to drive all these years so it's been an amazing journey and I'm very thankful."
This is for the second time that Gill has managed to secure the APRC drivers' champion title, having won the same back in 2013 as well. Having won four previous rounds of the season, the Indian drive had a 42 point lead over his closest competitor and teammate Fabian Kreim at the start of the Malaysian rally. However, Kreim retired after gearbox issues helping Gaurav Gill extend his points lead to an unassailable 58 points with one rally to go.
While it was Gill's show till the end, the 2016 FIA APRC saw Jari Ketomaa and co-driver Mikko Lukka of Finland with their Mitsubishi Mirage team claim the runner-up spot. Coming in third at the podium are Japanese driver Yuya Sumiyama and co-driver Takahiro Yasui in a Cusco Subaru.
The other Indian driver, Sanjay Takale finished fourth in the championship in a Cusco Subaru, while Malaysian rally legend Karamjit Singh managed to bag the fifth spot in the season.
The last round of the APRC will be held in Chikmagalur, Karnataka in India where Gaurav Gill will be officially crowned as the 2016 APRC champion.