The Coffee Day India Rally 2017


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Akash1886

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Gaurav Gill (left) and Ole Christian Veiby in a high stakes battle.JPG

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Gill, Veiby locked in fierce contest for APRC crown

39 entries for FMSCI MRF Indian National Rally Championship

Chikkamagaluru, November 23: Excitement and expectations have reached unprecedented levels as the Coffee Day India Rally 2017 which doubles up as the fifth and concluding round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, organized by the Motor Sports Club of Chikkamagalur, commences here tomorrow after tonight’s ceremonial flag-off at the sponsors Coffee Day Global premises.

The fourth round of the MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship, promoted by Ramakrishna Race Performance Management, Kolkata, will be run concurrently with 39 entries.

The highlight of the weekend gala will be the title shootout between defending APRC champion Gaurav Gill and his Team MRF mate Ole Christian Veiby, the 21-year old speed merchant from Norway, both driving the Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia R5, with six points separating the two.

Also in the APRC fray are two more Indians, PG Abhilash of Team PGA Motorsports in a Subaru Impreza WRX Sti who leads in the production class and US-based Sumit Panjabi (SNAP Racing) piloting Mitsubishi Evo VIII besides New Zealand’s Mike Young (Volkswagen Polo R2) and Sri Lankan Sharfaz Junaid (Volkswagen Polo).

The coffee town is agog with excitement with most hotels fully booked by rally enthusiasts and even a bunch of die-hard Gill fans flying in from Singapore to cheer the Indian ace.

Delhi-based Gill (136 points), the twice APRC champion, and Veiby (130) are primed for a no-holds barred battle in the twisty and tricky coffee estate roads of the Coffee Day Global, about 35 Kms from this popular holiday destination.

While Gill, with Belgian Stephane Prevot in the co-driver’s seat, is all too familiar with the terrain and route that is often aptly described as “Rally of 1000 corners” and which he dominated last year when he won all six rounds of the APRC for his second title, Veiby, partnered by compatriot Stig Rune Skjarmoen, has some catching up to do, but has the pace, confidence and daring of the youth to pull off a win.

Through the season, the duo has fought every inch of the way over four rounds as Gill triumphed in New Zealand and Japan, while Veiby took the honours in Australia and Malaysia.

While acknowledging that he is the favourite for the title and enjoys massive home support, Gill summed up the task before him saying there is only one way to retain his crown and that is by winning.

Yes, I am on familiar terrain here in Chikkamagaluru, but I still have to drive to win. Because of the twisty route, the average speeds will be low and you have to be very precise. It is very much a tactical rally. I may have an advantage over OC, but he has done more rallies this year, including WRC-2 and as such more seat time in the R5. However, it is pretty straightforward as I have to win here to win the championship,” said 35-year old Gill who enjoys a cult following in these parts.

Veiby, seemingly unfazed by the challenge ahead, said: “This is definitely the most thrilling rally this season and without doubt, the most important in the APRC. I am extra excited this time. I am in no way stressed about this even though victory is the only thing that matters. I feel, the pressure will be more on Gill as he is leading the championship and driving on home soil.”

Meanwhile, the MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship has attracted 39 entries headlined by Mahindra Adventure’s UK-based Amittrajit Ghosh (co-driver Ashwin Naik) who is among the favourites to win this round.

Also in the INRC mix are country’s top guns like Arjun Rao, Karna Kadur, Rahul Kanthraj, and Dean Mascarenhas among others who add more glamour and excitement to the star cast.

After Thursday night’s ceremonial flag-off, the event kicks-off with the popular Super Special Stage at the Amber Valley school grounds on Friday evening before the competitors head to the Special Stages on Saturday.

The APRC round covers 502 kms of which 207.54 Kms comprise Special Stages while the INRC cars will do 224.72 kms with 81.63 Kms of Special Stages. The INRC round concludes on Saturday while APRC event terminates on Sunday afternoon.
 
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Akash1886

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Coffee Day India Rally - Day One

Gaurav Gill in action during Super Special Stage (Nov 24).JPG

Ole Christian Veiby in action during Super Special Stage (Nov 24).JPG

Chikkamagaluru, November 24: Team MRF drivers Gaurav Gill from India and Norway’s Ole Christian Veiby set the tone and tenor for the Coffee Day India Rally, the fifth and concluding round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship as the duo topped the time sheets in the Super Special Stage at the packed Amber Valley School grounds, here on Friday.

Gill (co-driver Stephane Prevot), the defending champion, clocked a blistering 02 minutes, 17.7 seconds over the 2.1 Kms circuit while APRC debutant Veiby (Stig Rune Skjarmoen) returned 02:17.9, both giving a thrilling exhibition of controlled aggression in their respective Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia R5 cars much to the delight of thousands of spectators.

Finishing a distant third behind the leading duo was PG Abhilash (Srikant Gowda) of Team R3A PGA Motorsports in a Subaru Impreza WRX Sti who timed 02:30.5, but ahead of New Zealand’s Mike Young (Malcolm Read), Sumit Panjabi (Nitin Jacob) and Sri Lanka’s Shafraz Junaid (Akhry Ameer).

Gill, who leads Veiby by six points in the winner-takes-all APRC title stakes, was last on the track and rode on the wave of popular support with a drive that would be long remembered after the 21-year old Norwegian, a regular in the WRC-2, posted a seemingly quickest time.

With so little separating them, Gill and Veiby are thus set for a battle royale over the next two days as the APRC caravan heads out to the estates of title sponsors Coffee Day Global for the Special Stages.

Earlier in the day, Veiby was the quickest in the shakedown clocking 01:23.3 as against Gill’s 01:25.0 as the pair had the first feel of the Skoda R5 this week, but the true test

The stages are lot more open and wider than last year. So, the average speeds will be much higher. However, given the twisty route, I feel there will be a lot of stress on the car,” said Gill soon after the shakedown and during the pre-event FIA press conference when asked about his thoughts on the Stages following Thursday’s reconnaissance run.

Veiby said: “This event is nicknamed as “Rally of 1000 corners”, but it looks more like a million corners. The Stages are quite fast and I have never driven on such terrain. So, it is all about having a good feel of the car.”

In the MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship that is being run concurrently and also organized by the Motor Sports Club of Chikmagalur, Younis Ilyas (Harish Kumar) was the quickest overall (02:35.7) followed by Arjun Rao (Satish Rajagopal) and Amittrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik) of Team Mahindra Adventure.

Provisional results (Super Special Stage – 2.1 Kms):

FIA APRC: 1. Gaurav Gill / Stephane Prevot (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia R5) (02mins, 17.7secs); 2. Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjarmoen (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia R5) (02mins, 17.9secs); 3. PG Abhilash / Srikant Gowda (Team R3A PGA Motorsports, Subaru Impreza WRX Sti) (02:30.5).

MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship (Overall): 1. Younis Ilyas / Harish Kumar (02:35.7); 2. 2. Arjun Rao / Satish Rajagopal (Volkswagen Polo R2) (02:36.2); 3. Amittrajit Ghosh / Ashwin Naik (Mahindra Adventure, XUV 500) (02:36.6).
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Akash
 
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Coffee Day India Rally 2017 - Day Two

Gaurav Gill in action (Nov 25).JPG

Karna Kadur, winner of Coffee Day India Rally in the INRC section (Nov 25).JPG

PG Abhilash in action (Nov 25).JPG

Chikkamagaluru, November 25: India’s Gaurav Gill of Team MRF tightened his grip on the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship title as his closest rival and team-mate Ole Christian Veiby from Norway dropped out of contention with a gear box problem on the penultimate day of the Coffee Day India Rally here on Saturday.

Meanwhile, in the fourth round of the MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship that was run concurrently, Karna Kadur and co-driver Nikhil V Pai in a Volkswagen Polo emerged overall winners, ahead of Dean Mascarenhas (co-driver Shruptha Paduval) and Arjun Rao (Satish Rajagopal).

Gill, winner of APRC crowns in 2013 and 2016, enjoyed a six-point lead in the championship over Veiby going into the final round. In the event, the expected titanic battle between the two effectively dissipated when Veiby’s Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia R5 suffered mechanical problems.

With four more Special Stages to be run on Sunday covering 64.12 Kms, Gill, who leads second-placed PG Abhilash of R3A PGA Motorsports team by 15 minutes, 21.0 seconds, has one hand on the trophy. Veiby is lying third, trailing Abhilash by 02:25.1.

Delhi-based 35-year old Gill was virtually in cruise control mode in his Skoda Fabia R5 after Veiby encountered gearbox and driveshaft problems midway through the day’s first Special Stage. It cost the 21-year old Norwegian massive amount of time with his car losing front-wheel drive and stuck in third gear.

Veiby’s misfortune was to PG Abhilash’s benefit as the Keralite in a Subaru Impreza WRX Sti eased into second place, but remained very much in the sight of a hard-charging Veiby, who after mid-day service saw his team of mechanics change the gearbox in 20 minutes flat. Veiby cut the eight-minute deficit to Abhilash at half-way mark, to a little over two minutes at the end of the day by being the fastest over the last five Stages.

“Somewhere in the day’s first Stage today, I heard some noise and then lost the front-wheel drive. It was very difficult thereafter and worse still, my car was stuck in third gear. My co-driver Stig (Rune Skjarmoen) had to use the handbrake for me. We spun a few times too.

This is rallying, but I feel the game is not over yet. Anything can happen as there is still a lot of driving left in this rally. Of course, I will push as hard as possible from now on,” said Veiby during the service break.

Despite the healthy advantage, Gill felt he still needed to bring home his car safely on Sunday. “It is a very difficult and long rally. Though I have a big lead, my aim is to bring home the car in one piece. Overall, I am pretty pleased with the car and especially the tyres which are of a new pattern that MRF developed. The tyres offered good grip and I could attack the corners with far more confidence,” said Gill.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Mike Young, driving the Volkswagen Polo, was forced to retire following fuel leak and other mechanical issues. “I thought I had good pace today, but the fuel tank developed a leak on SS-6, though I am not sure how because I didn’t hit anything, and I decided to pull out rather than risk a mishap,” he said.

Provisional results:

APRC: 1. Gaurav Gill / Stephane Prevot (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia R5) (02Hrs, 24mins, 22.2secs); 2. PG Abhilash / Srikant Gowda (Team R3A, PGA Motorsports, Subaru Impreza WRX) (02:39:43.2); 3. Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjarmoen (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia R5) (02:42:08.3).

MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship – Overall placing): 1. Karna Kadur / Nikhil V Pai (ARKA Motorsports, VW Polo) (01:32:18.3); 2. Dean Mascarenhas / Shruptha Padival (VW Polo) (01:32:54.4); 3. Arjun Rao / Satish Rajagopal (VW Polo R2) (01:33:59.3).
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Akash
 
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Gaurav Gill clinches third Asia Pacific crown

Gaurav Gill in action (Nov 26).JPG

India's Gaurav Gill (right) and co-driver Stephane Prevot from Belgium with the FIA  APRC trophy.JPG

Chikkamagaluru, November 26: India’s Gaurav Gill came up with another mature drive to retain the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship title, his third since 2013, as he led another 1-2 Team MRF sweep in the Coffee Day India Rally 2017 ahead of team-mate Ole Christian Veiby from Norway, here on Sunday, by 17 minutes, 38.4 seconds.

Going into the Coffee Day India Rally, organized by Motor Sports Club of Chikmagalur, and which doubled up as the fifth and concluding round of the 2017 APRC, 35-year old Gill and co-driver Stephane Prevot of Belgium led Veiby (Stig Rune Skjarmoen) by six points with both requiring a win to clinch the title. With the 21-year old Norwegian suffering mechanical problems yesterday and losing time, Gill cruised to another fine win.

The victory was worth 38 points which took Gill’s tally to 174 while Veiby finished on 160. While the Indian ace won three of the five rounds, Veiby triumphed in the other two as MRF Tyres bag team championship while Skoda yet again took the manufacturer’s trophy. It was also Gill’s 17th win in APRC since his debut in 2008.

Enjoying a commanding 15-minute lead overnight, Gill did not feel the need to push hard and yet he won one of the day’s four Special Stages while Veiby continued his charge to move from third to the second spot.

Meanwhile, Abhilash PG, having completed all the Stages in third place today, retired during the transport run due to mechanical problems to the finish fourth, thus promoting Sri Lankan Shafraz Junaid (Akhry Ameer) to third.

Reflecting on his victory and the third APRC title, Gill said: “Obviously, I am extremely pleased to win such a hard-fought championship. My satisfaction lies in the fact that I beat my team-mate OC (Veiby) who is a World Championship driver and even won the round in Poland. More importantly, this victory is for Indian motorsport and it showed that India is capable of competing with the best talent in the World.

“For me personally, it satisfying to win three APRC titles despite the fact that I get to drive just five or six rounds in a year and not as much seat time in the rally car as my team-mate. OC, for instance, is a factory test driver for Skoda and also participates in the World Championship besides other rallies. So, for me to beat him despite the odds I face, is especially satisfying.

“Looking ahead, I think I have done enough to show that I have the pace and ability to compete at the World-level as my first APRC title in 2013 was against my then team-mate Esapekka Lappi from Finland who today is a regular in the World championship with several wins. At the moment, I accept what is on offer without thinking too much about what is in store for me in my rallying career.”


For APRC debutant Veiby, it was disappointing outing here and felt that he could have done much better than finishing second in the championship, but said he benefitted by competing against Gill.

Yeah, for sure, I could have had better results on my debut in APRC this year. I had mechanical issues with my car in three of the five rounds. However, it was fun competing with Gaurav and I think I learnt a lot. Overall, it was a great experience, driving in different conditions, terrain and countries,” said Veiby.

Provisional results:

APRC: 1. Gaurav Gill / Stephane Prevot (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia R5) (03hrs, 20mins, 19.8secs); 2. Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjarmoen (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia R5) (03:37:58.2); 3. Shafraz Junaid / Akhry (Volkswagen Polo) (04:10:17.4).
Regards

Akash
 

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