APRC: Review of Round 2 – Rallye New Caldeonia


Gurav Gill turned the tables on his MRF Skoda teammate to lead home Pontus Tidemand on the Rallye New-Caldeonia10408780_1849240415300618_4303989930112738933_nDay 1

The Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) battle is heating up as Gaurav Gill finished the first full day of competition in the lead of Rally of New Caledonia, the second round of the championship held this weekend.

After starting the day 5.3 seconds behind his Team MRF Skoda team-mate Pontus Tidemand, Gill (India) was hoping his experience on the New Caledonian roads would pay off, and in the first stage of the morning it did.

Only 200 meters into the first stage of the day, Tidemand (Sweden) went wide on a corner puncturing the right rear tyre on his Skoda Fabia S2000. With over 15 kilometers left to run, Tidemand and co-driver Emil Axelsson were forced to stop in the stage and change the tyre, losing over two minutes in the process.

With Gill holding a commanding lead, the Team MRF team-mates then battled it out for stage honours with both taking multiple stage victories throughout the day.

“It’s been a good day for us even though the roads have been incredibly slippery. Pontus my team-mate had some bad-luck in this morning’s first stage, however we’ve been able to maintain the gap and we head into tomorrow stages with a good lead. But it’s a long rally, with hundreds of crests and a very slippery surface, so we must be careful,”

Gurav Gill

The Skoda Team-MRF team also hold third, with local driver Jean-Louis Leyraud also having a successful day in his Skoda Fabia S2000, meaning the team hold the ultimate podium.

Leyraud, who is also leading the national event running alongside the APRC, said his focus is simply finishing on the podium and he will not worry about the two leaders.

Meanwhile local driver Eugene Creugnet holds fourth in his Mitsubishi Evolution 9, with Emmanuel Guigou leading the two-wheel-drive class in his Renault Clio R3T.

“I started the first stage this morning and I don’t know if the car had puncture in the beginning of the stage, but in the left corner the car just stepped out wide, I don’t know why. I hit a little bank there, maybe we got the puncture there but we had to stop and change. We lost a little more than two minutes, but that’s life.”

Pontus Tidemand


11212148_1052968754733099_950933930787652002_oDay 2

The podium at the second round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), held in New Caledonia, has been dominated by Team MRF with Gaurav Gill of India eventually taking the win ahead of his two team-mates.

Piloting his Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000, Gill took the lead on the first stage on Saturday after his Swedish team-mate Pontus Tidemand got a puncture and lost over two minutes as a result.

“It’s been a great weekend for us and the team. We had some small issues at the start of the weekend but the team made a good effort and got it sorted which helped us get the confidence back in the car. We had a great day on day one and day two we were in good position to control the rally.

“We’re here first and second which is the most important thing. It has been a great effort by the team, and the tyres worked well.”

Gurav Gill

While Gill and co-driver Glenn Macneall simply drove to conserve his lead, Tidemand fought back on day two in his Skoda Fabia S2000 on debut in New Caledonia to close the gap from two minutes to only 39 seconds over only 119 competitive kilometres.

“We had more good experience on this rally, it is a different surface and for sure, we had a puncture in the first stage it was my mistake. We hit a little wall so that’s destroyed our weekend, well not destroyed it but made it not easy.”

Pontus Tidemand

The young Swede and his co-driver Emil Axelsson leave New Caledonia tonight for the next World Rally Championship round, Rally Portugal, next weekend where he will debut Skoda Motorsport’s new R5 car.

“It is my first WRC event in the new car with Skoda Motorsport so I’m really looking forward to that.”

The final podium spot was filled by local driver Jean-Louis Leyraud in his Skoda Fabia S2000.

“We finished on the podium as I wanted. It is very good and I am leading the New Caledonia Championship and I’m the first New Caledonian driver.”

“It was very difficult and very slippery, especially this afternoon. My goal was just to finish, not to try too hard and not to make mistakes.”

Jean-Louis Leyraud

The Team MRF team-mates now sit neck-and-neck in the overall APRC Drivers’ points with only three points separating them, as they head towards the International Rally of Queensland next month which also doubles as the final round of the Pacific Cup.

Another New Caledonian driver Eugène Creuhnet in a Mitsubishi Evo 9, was 4th, followed by French national Manu Guigou  who moved up a spot on Day2 to finish 5th overall and win the two-wheel class in his Renault Clio R3t.

All materials courtesy of APRC PR