Asia-Pacific Rally: Gill endures tough day

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Local manufacturers Proton stole a march on favourites MRF on Day One of the Malaysian leg of Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in Johor Bahru on Saturday.

Chris Atkinson from Australia and India’s Gaurav Gill, both driving on MRF radials, had their share of misfortune over the eight-stage first leg and are placed second and seventh respectively.

Swedish driver Per-Gunnar Andersson piloting a Proton Satria Neo S2000 for Proton has taken a lead of 1 minute 22.7 seconds over Gill who clocked the best timing in the third and seventh stages.

It was a disastrous day for Atkinson who after leading the first two stages, discovered a cut in the hose-pipe to the coolant and had to apply the brakes for damage control, costing him more than 13 precious minutes over the 17.69 km third stage.

Adding to the mechanical woes, the harsh conditions after heavy rains slushed the roads through the oil plantations in Kota Tinggi, 40 km away from Johor, forcing the organisers to cancel Stage 6 citing safety issues.

“We were unlucky to have a puncture and an electrical glitch in alternate stages early on and under these conditions there can be no margin of errors,” said Gill after an unforgiving day at office.

“I pushed hard and succeeded to increase my lead over McRae but Andersson maintained his position. The next leg will be tough,” said Gill.

Provisional Results after Day 1:

1. P. G. Andersson (Proton) 1:48:49.9 hr; 2. Gaurav Gill (MRF) 1:50:12.6 hr; 3. Alister McRae (Proton) 1:51.04.4 hr.

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