The weathermen got it right this time, but Team MRF got it all wrong on the second and final day of the Rally of Whangarei, the third stop over of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, here on Sunday.
New Zealand's Hayden Paddon, who led on the opening day, continued in the same vein to finish on top of the podium.
On a day when rain refused to relent, a gearbox problem proved to be a bigger dampener for Gaurav Gill. Consequently, the Indian had to be content with a top speed of around 70 kmph compared to the average 200 kmph and was forced to nurse his car all the way to the finish on second gear.
Even that wasn't easy as his windshield started misting during the final stages of the rally, resulting in poor visibility. Bad luck has continued to plague Gill who was leading the pack on the first day in the Rally of Hokkaido before losing his way on the second.
“I am really disappointed with this seventh place finish as I was lying second overnight. I was hoping for a good result and some vital points here,” said Gill. The Indian could, however, take heart from the fact that he made an impact in a rally where the Kiwis have been simply unbeatable.
Katsuhiko Taguchi's day was no better as he finished sixth. He encountered a suspension problem and had to concentrate on just crossing the finish line. The current No. 1 in the drivers' standings had a forgettable time in New Zealand as he could not collect any points and also saw his lead cut down to 20. At the moment, Taguchi has 74 while Gill has 54.
The APRC caravan moves to Queensland (Australia) where the fourth leg will be held on July 31 and August 1. The Team MRF drivers will surely be hoping for better weather and better results there.
Provisional results: 1. Hayden Paddon (Team Hayden Paddon) 2:46:32.7, 2. Alister McRae (Proton) +4:23.6, 3. Dean Sumner (ITM Rally Team) +5:57.7, 4. Sloan Cox (Taslo Engineering) +11:40.6, 5. Rifat Sungkar (Pertamina) +19:46.1, 6. Katsuhiko Taguchi (Team MRF) +22:48.0 and 7. Gaurav Gill (Team MRF) +23:46.8.
Keywords: Asia Pacific Rally Championship