Sport loves to play up to its cliches of providing surprises, or shocks depending on which side you are. A straightforward win without twists and turns would not appeal as much.

And providing the surprise on Sunday morning for Team MRF was Katsuhiko Taguchi who won the Rally Hokkaido, the second round of the Asia Pacific Rally championship upstaging his teammate and overnight leader Gaurav Gill clocking 2:08:26.3 And Hiroshi Yanagisawa of Cusco Racing squeezed in between to beat Gill to the third spot and preventing an MRF one-two. It, however, has been the best start to the season for MRF.

Fluctuating fortunes

Taguchi's luck turned in the 14th stage when Gill hit a pole and consequently lost some time. “Everybody was going flat out as thing were close. I thought I would not be able to catch Gill, but he a had a bad luck and that gave me a chance,” Taguchi said. He was pleased with the team's good start to the season.

Taguchi who was behind Gill finished the stage with a faster time and took off in the 15th never to look back, Gill, who was in lead till the Special Stage 14 run in the Honbetsu mountain range, hit a pole.

“We had a small problem when we hit a pole which bent our wheel.”

Further problem dogged Gill in the next stge. “The section was so rough that it completely broke our suspension arm, Later our brakes failed too and we lost some time,” Gill said. That allowed Yanagisawa to edge ahead.

Looking ahead to their next round rally at Whangarei, New Zealand, both Taguchi and Gill felt the Proton teams would provide a tough challenge with their cars being more suited to the terrain. That however, would not keep them down and they would like to keep the good work going.

The results: (top three): 1. Katsuhiko Taguchi, MRF (2:08:26.3); 2. Hiroshi Yanagisawa, Cusco Racing (2:08:35.3); 3. Gaurav Gill, MRF 2:10:29.8).

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