Skoda MRF team is now reported of celebrating the moment with the toast of champagne for a perfect start to the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) with a one-two victory lead by the defending champions Gaurav Gill/Glenn Macneall (IND/NZ). The duos brought the victory to the brand at Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand with an 11.9-second lead over the European champions Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ). The Skoda MRF teams, without much hassle, took over their rivals and registered a victory on all 14 special stages in the first of six races in the APRC season. All praises to the Fabia Super 2000, which proven its worth once again with the desired performance delivered.
“I’ve been close to winning here a number of times, and this time I finally succeeded. This is a fantastic victory for the entire Skoda MRF team,” commented Gill. Last year Gill, who comes from India, finished second in the season opener in New Zealand, behind his teammate Esapekka Lappi (FIN). On the last day, Gill managed to pull on a strong throttle extravaganza in the stiff battle with Kopecký. The victory registered by a very narrow route, which had been reduced to 220.87 kilometres.
Since the first day, the 2013 European champion was already stricken to the lead position. This race at the Whangarei was the 32-year-old’s debut in the APRC, and also his first time experience of driving the vehicle during completion on Indian made MRF tyres. “We had a really good battle with Gaurav over the entire weekend. This gives me the opportunity to improve. I haven’t had much experience with this kind of gravel rally and this is also the first time that I have competed so far away from my home in the Czech Republic. I’m therefore happy with the result,“ said Kopecký.
Gill and Kopecký are now ranked at top of the drivers’ list due to their one-two finish. In this league to do best in dirt, Skoda MRF are under pressure to save their achieved title in the manufacturers’ standings ahead of the second race of the season in New Caledonia from 16 to 18 May.
This competition of APRC is astounded to prove as an important ground for the Czech car maker as it wanted to captivate the international markets, with a due to achieve immense growth. With an aim to increase its global sales to at least 1.5 million units a year in the next few years and also to achieve strong growth in particular in the Asian growth markets, Skoda seems to have already started brushing and polishing the guns.
The 2014 APRC calendar:
- 16–18 May: Rallye de Nouvelle-Calédonie – New Caledonia
- 20–22 June: Rally of Queensland – Australia
- 15–17 August: Malaysian Rally – Malaysia
- 26–28 September: Rally Hokkaido – Japan
- 7–9 November: China Rally – China