Panaji, Sep 8 (IANS) Six years after his first and triumphant foray, Gaurav Gill returned to conquer the Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare once again, scorching the field in his inimitable style over five gruelling days.
With his trusted navigator Musa Sherif by his side, the six-time Asia-Pacific Rally Champion (APRC) won each of the five legs and most of the 15 Special Stages to re-emphasise his pre-eminence in the country.
In the bike category, Vishwas S.D claimed the overall title, making the most of overnight leader and firm favourite Yuva Kumar’s misfortune in literally the last Special Stage, SS12, of the rally.
Yuva, who was leading all the way from the start, saw his bike break down with just 15 kilometres to go and by the time he could repair the damage, he lost 15 minutes and the crown.
Gill’s teammate Philippos Matthai (with PVS Moorthy) claimed the overall second place in the car category while Maruti Suzuki’s Samrat Yadav (with Karan Aukta) held on to the third position.
Gill and Musa crossed a significant milestone while racing away to their second victory in the Dakshin Dare, organised by Motorsport Inc; it was their 50th rally together and their 31st win to set a unique Indian record.
Incredibly, they made the podium each of the 35 times they completed a rally, missing out the remaining 15 times only due to DNFs.
“Even after all these years, I retain the same enthusiasm for rallying. I am motivated enough to give 200 per cent each time I drive,” Gill said, while accepting the team championship trophy.
“We had a very good team and a great strategy that helped us last five tough days,” he added.
Gill took 6 hours 57 minutes and 44 seconds to complete the five legs, winning with a handsome margin of over 15 minutes. On the last day, he went all out in the rally’s longest stage and clocked 1 hour 15 minutes and 50 seconds for the 70 kilometres.
Team Maruti Suzuki were in the thick of all the action, with Sandeep Sharma and Suresh Rana grabbing the fourth and fifth places.
The 2,000-kilometre rally began in Bengaluru on September 2 and traversed through Karnataka and Maharashtra before finishing in Goa on Saturday night.