Proton Satria's Alister McRae, the Scottish driver with an illustrious family background in rallying, lived up to the expectations by producing a superb performance that put him on the driver's seat on day one of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) on Saturday.

Team MRF's Gaurav Gill started off on a bright note, leading by 10 seconds by the fifth stage but faltered in the sixth and seventh stages to be in third position.

Gill's teammate Katsu Taguchi, driving a Mitsubishi Evo X for the first time, wouldn't have expected this kind of start. He was asked to slow down in stage one when Proton Satria's Chris Atkinson went off the track but managed to recover to win the seventh and eighth stages. He was placed second.

Rain creates problems

Meanwhile, the rains that lashed the city on Friday made life difficult for the drivers as they had to overcome loose gravels on the track. But the drivers were able to finish all the stages as rain played truant.

When asked about what went wrong in the fifth stage, Gill blamed it on the brakes.

“My brakes got overheated. The brakes worked for the first four stages though not effectively. After the fifth stage my car literally had no brakes. I went off the road several times, and was lucky to finish. I had the same problem here last year.”

Taguchi said he was satisfied with the performance. He had some problems with the steering but was rectified before the start of the fifth stage.

“My car had understeer during the first four stages due to incorrect setting. This was rectified at the service and in the remaining stages we were very competitive. It went off well today and if I push hard tomorrow I think I can win the race.”

Provisional results (After Stage 8): 1. Alister McRae / Bill Hayes (Proton Satria) 02:04:16; 2. Katsu Taguchi / Mark Stacey (MRF) 02:04:34; 3. Gaurav Gill / Glenn Macneall (MRF) 02:05:43; 4. Chris Atkinson / Stephane Prevot (Proton Satria) 02:22:42; Muhammad Rafiq Udhaya / Sean F. Gregory (Subaru Impreza) 02:23:35; 6. Rifat Sungkar / Scott Beckwith (Subaru Impreza) 02:23:48.

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