Chennai: The 25-year-old driver Gaurav Gill will join Team MRF for this year's Asia Pacific Rally Championship, K.M. Mammen, Chairman and Managing Director, MRF, announced on Tuesday.
Detailing Team MRF's success story in the prestigious APRC since its entry in 2002, Mr. Mammen described Gill, the first Indian to register in the championship, as "aggressive, a true rally driver and the right candidate." He outlined the challenges confronting a young driver like Gill in the rallies, reputed for their intensity, diversity and variety, but was optimistic that 2007 would give Gill a good measure of experience and confidence. Gill is likely to have an Australian co-driver and will train in the UK.
Emphasising the importance of maintaining the image of a champion outfit in the circuit, Mr. Mammen underlined how the rallies in different climes and topography had helped MRF to fine-tune the quality of its tyres. The tyres are "tested in real racing conditions," Mr. Mammen observed. He also mentioned how MRF, based in a tropical country like India, produces sophisticated tyres to meet the norms of winter rallies in Finland. Gaurav will be joining MRF's proficient team of drivers like Jussi Valimaki and co-driver Jarkko Kalliolepo of Finland, Katsuhiko Taguchi of Japan and co-driver Mark Stacey of Australia.
Like the rest of his colleagues, Gill too will be driving the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9 car, prepared by Race Torque Engineering in Perth (Australia). A consignment of 90 MRF tyres has already been sent to Perth.
The compactly built, debutant APRC driver spoke about how excited he was to graduate into international rallying from starting the career as a two-wheeler competitor. He would stop racing this season in India, and devote attention to getting a feel of the tricky and hazardous circuits in the Asia Pacific Rally.
Armin Kremer (Germany) won the APRC title for Team MRF in 2003, and Jussi Valimaki in 2005.
Team MRF will take part in six of the seven rounds in 2007. They are New Caledonia (April 13-15), Canberra (June 1-3), Hokkaido (July 6-8), Malaysia (August 10-12), Indonesia (Makassar (Sept.7-9) and China (Nov. 23-25).