Gill, Tidemand to face-off in China Rally (Preview)

Longyou (China), Oct 29 (IANS) After being plagued by mechanical problems and dollops of bad luck for the better part of the season, India’s Gaurav Gill will be looking to salvage some pride as he resumes his battle with his MRF Skoda teammate Pontus Tidemand in the China Rally, the sixth and penultimate round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).

The rally will be held here from October 30 to November 1.

But it’s going to be an uphill task for the 2013 champion. Tidemand, fresh from his victory in the WRC 2 class in Rally Catalunya behind the wheels of Skoda Fabia R5, has already sealed this year’s title after Gill did not finish (DNF) in the previous round in Japan due to mechanical failure on the first day.

Tidemand currently leads Gill by 82 points. Team MRF, which is looking for another 1-2 finish, has already sealed the championship.

In China, Gill will have to deal with the added challenge of his teammate driving the vastly superior Skoda Fabia R5 while the Indian will be doing duty behind the wheels of Skoda Fabia S2000. Though the R5 variant of the Fabia is currently used in WRC2 class and European Rally Championship, both MRF and Skoda will be testing the upgraded version of the car for the first time in APRC with the idea of introducing this car next year.

“The 2015 season has been very tough for me from the reliability point of view. In all the rallies I have managed to match Pontus’ pace as long as the car lasted. But it’s going to be really tough in China because of the difference in the equipment that we will be using,” said Gill.

Gill, who won the second round in New Caledonia, returned empty handed from the fifth round in Japan after drive shaft failure on the liaison to the first stage. Earlier in Australia, he had to deal with engine failure while in Malaysia rear differential problems caused him to lose a lot of pace on the second day of the rally.

For Tidemand, it has been a great debut year in APRC.

“It feels great to come to this part of the world for the first time and win the championship. It’s a shame that in some of the rallies, Gill had to deal with car issues. Otherwise, it has been a good fight. Hope we can carry on with the good performance in China as well,” said Tidemand.

The China Rally will be fought over 13 special stages covering a total distance of 229 km. Out of the 13 stages, 12 were used in last year’s rally.

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