1-2 finish for Team MRF at Rally of New Caledonia
Noumea (New Caledonia), May 18 (IANS): Team MRF completed another 1-2 finish as European champion Jan Kopecky (co-driver Pravel Dresler) won the Rally of New Caledonia, the second round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, ahead of team-mate Gaurav Gill (Glenn Macneall) here on Sunday.
However, both the Team MRF Skoda drivers are under investigation for postponing the start of Stage 13 due to what they thought were unsafe conditions.
Gill was comfortably leading on Saturday before an accident caused suspension damage, and he conceded the lead to Kpecky.
Driving the Skoda Fabia S2000, Kopecky was in the driver’s seat with a five-minute lead heading into Day 2 that witnessed some drama with Special Stage-12 cancelled following heavy rains.
Then came the news that the last three Stages would also not run as conditions were so bad that the safety car also could not get through. Both Kapecky and Gill felt the conditions were impossible to drive in and hence requested for safer conditions before resuming.
Kopecky admitted he has happy for the rally to finish after driving in very tough conditions that also led to the cancellation of a few Stages on Saturday.
Kopecky said: “I am happy to have my first win of the season and the Team MRF Tyres Skoda team have been great in really tough conditions. I have to say I didn’t enjoy my driving so much, with so much mud.
“One stage I liked was in the North, more like a proper stage, but the rest was like driving over the fields in the mud, I didn’t enjoy so much.
“Our gap (today) was quite huge, so I didn’t want to make a mistake. There was no pressure and I was relaxed in the car. There was one stage in the North I enjoyed and each time I was able to go quicker than Gaurav, so it was good for us.
“We are now on equal points with Gaurav, that’s good for championship. If you have a close battle from the start, it’s always better. Next is Australia. I’ve never been there, so a new country, a new rally we are looking forward to it.”
Defending APRC champion Gill rued the fact that his mistake Saturday cost him the win, but was happy to salvage second place here.
Gill said: “We had a good lead and a healthy margin, but unfortunately we got caught out by the conditions yesterday and found a tree on the exit of a corner. It wasn’t so good for the car and we bent a suspension arm.
“Glenn (Macneall) and I had to do some repairs, the drive the last stage very conservatively. We’re happy to finish the day yesterday and today fastest of the day, so maximum points in the kitty – the best I could have done.”
Jan Kopecky / Pravel Dresler (MRF Skoda) 1 (2hrs, 01min, 40.6secs; Gaurav Gill / Glenn Macneall (MRF Skoda) 2 (02:04:53.2); Michael Young / Malcolm Read (Cusco Proton) 3 (02:23:18.3).