Gill in catch-up mode in Asia Pacific Rally
Gaurav Gill (co-driver Glenn Macneall) of MRF will be under pressure as he sets off in hot chase of his team-mate Jan Kopecky (Pavel Dressler) in the Malaysian Rally that is also the fourth round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship being held here this weekend.
After Gill, the 2013 APRC champion retired in the previous round in Australia following a crash, Kopecky opened a 39-point lead in the championship standings. Kopecky, the European champion, has 105 points to Gill's 66 while Australian Mark Pedder is third with 62.
However, Gill's experience of the Malaysian Rally could prove decisive as the slippery Special Stages and tropical climate make this event of the toughest rallies in the world.
While Gill will drive a brand new Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia S2000, Kopecky will have a new engine fitted to his car which could see them take a first-up Malaysian victory.
This event is usually tricky on technical roads that are very slippery when wet," Team MRF boss, Lane Heenan said. "The temperature and humidity makes this one of the toughest rallies anywhere in the world and is a real test of the crews' stamina.
Jan has been going to the sauna and wearing his overalls for the last few weeks to help get used to the conditions here, and both drivers and co-drivers will wear cool suits with ice water circulation to prevent fatigue."
Team MRF will be hoping to get both cars to the finish and to consolidate their already considerable championship lead.
While they're hoping for a dry event, rain in Malaysia can often be very localised, making tyre choice more difficult than at any other event in the championship. Temperatures during the day are expected to be around 30 degrees, with high humidity.
After a ceremonial start at a local shopping centre Friday evening, the Malaysian Rally continues Saturday and Sunday with 14 stages covering a total competitive distance of 217 kilometres. The longest stage of the rally is the 26.32 km Tai Tak stage, held twice on the first day.
After Kopecky won the Pacific Cup covering the first three rounds of the APRC, Team MRF have entered Gill in the Asian Cup, of which this event is the first round.
Other leading entries include Australian Tom Wilde (Renault Clio), Kiwi Michael Young (Proton Satria) and China's Jun Xu in a Skoda Fabia, besides Pedder.
For the 10th conservative year the palm oils estates around Kota Tinggi, Johor will be the venue for the event. The rally stages are fast and flowing roads all the way through with countless junctions, hidden crest, spiced up with high humidity that will be a challenge for the competitors.
The three-day event will cover 220 km of competitive high speed rallying stages divided into 14 special stages which over the past week has been bone dry.
(Posted on 14-08-2014)