Gaurav Gill finishes first , MRF set for 1-2 finish
Noumea (New Caledonia), May 16 (IANS): Winning outright three of the seven Special Stages, India's Gaurav Gill surged to a comfortable lead over his MRF teammate Pontus Tidemand from Sweden at the end of Leg 1 here on Saturday in the International Rally of New Caledonia which doubles up as the second round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
Twice winner here, Gill (co-driver Glenn Macneall), driving the Skoda Fabia S2000, finished Leg 1 with a timing of one hour, 17 minutes, 34.7 seconds while Tidemand (Emil Axelsson) clocked 01:19:30.8.
After the Friday night Super Special Stage, Sweden's Tidemand led by 5.3 seconds. However, 200 metres into the first Special Stage on Saturday morning, he went wide on a corner, puncturing the right rear tyre and lost over two minutes to slip to third spot.
Tidemand fought back to second place but could not make up the deficit despite winning four Special Stages, conceding a sizeable lead to Gill.
"It's been a good day for us even though the roads have been incredibly slippery. Pontus had some bad luck in this morning's first stage. However, we've been able to maintain the gap and we head into tomorrow's stages with a good lead. But it's a long rally, with hundreds of crests and a very slippery surface, so we must be careful," said the 34-year-old Delhi-based Gill.
MRF team holds the top three places with Tidemand second, followed by New Caledonian Jean-Louis Leyraud in third.
The rally concludes on Sunday when four more Special Stages will be run and Gill, the 2013 APRC champion, would be looking to nurse his lead.