Team MRF had a good outing at the Asia Pacific Rally championship here on Saturday, when 11 stages were completed.

Gaurav Gill stepped it up to take a five-second lead over his teammate Katsuhiko Taguchi. Close on Taguchi's heels is Hiroshi Yanagisawa of Cusco Racing, about eight seconds behind.

This sets up a thrilling last day's run with nothing much separating the three front-runners.

Proton has it rough

Proton team though had a tough outing as both Chris Atkinson, in the fifth stage, and Alistar McRae, in the sixth stage, retired due to engine problems.

It means that that the Proton challenge has almost ended.

Gill, however, would want to forget the last two stages where he lost valuable time allowing Taguchi to catch up with him. Gill had a healthy lead of 28 seconds but lost a good deal of time in stage 10 and 11.

“My car's left drive shaft gave way in the 10th stage which caused imbalance and lost me a lot of time. I was practically driving only on the rear wheels,” he revealed.

Gill lost 15 seconds in the 10th stage and 7 in the 11th even as Taguchi kept chipping away. The problem has, however, been rectified and Gill will hope to rev it up on Sunday.

Where Gill had gained considerable ground was on the picturesque Rikubetsu forest stage.

“Rikubetsu was pretty good, my fun Mickey Mouse stage,” Gill said. He had, by the end of the stage, taken a lead of about 10 seconds.

Puncture

Taguchi, who had enjoyed a good run till then winning most of the stages, had a puncture which robbed him of time.

“The morning wasn't bad; I had a puncture in the previous stage and I lost some time. Overall, it was good, said Taguchi.

And, at the end of the day, he had done enough to challenge Gill and stay in the hunt for the title.

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