Fourth win in the fourth round of the season: Gaurav Gill won the Rally Hokkaido in the FABIA R5 to move closer to the next title win for ŠKODA in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC). The stages in Japan were extremely muddy due to the recent typhoon – but Gill and his new co-driver Stéphane Prévot mastered the difficult conditions with the ease of champions.
The second ŠKODA MRF duo of Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian completed the one-two result, reaching the APRC podium for the fourth time this season.
A typhoon with torrential rain had covered some roads on the island of Hokkaido in mud and detritus. However, the Japanese organising team managed to clear all the stages and make them ready in time for the rally to start. Conditions were extremely complicated for the 19 competitors in the APRC – deep puddles and mud made the 220 stage kilometres hazardous and slippery.
Despite this, both ŠKODA drivers were in perfect control of their FABIA R5s. Fabian Kreim took the lead in Friday’s first stage, 0.1 seconds ahead of his team-mate Gaurav Gill. However, the 34-year-old Indian driver took command on Saturday and gradually extended his lead, although he had a new co-driver at his side in the form of the experienced Stéphane Prévot. Gill’s regular co-driver Glenn Macneall was competing at a rally in Finland. As proceedings drew to a close Gill / Prévot won the battle of the ŠKODAs, 1:50.6 minutes ahead of Kreim / Christian in second place.
He has now extended his lead in the drivers’ championship after four wins in four rallies this season and is ideally placed to repeat his 2013 APRC title win. This would mean the fifth consecutive title for ŠKODA in the prestigious continental championship. ŠKODA also moved further ahead of Subaru in the manufacturers’ championship. The final two rounds of the season, taking place in Malaysia and in Gill’s home country of India, will be decisive in the title race.
The 23-year-old Fabian Kreim once again proved just how talented he is – gravel rallies are completely new territory for the German driver.
He is the clear leader in the German Rally Championship (DRM) and he has the chance to secure his first national championship title at the “3-Städte-Rallye” on 21st and 22nd October, before returning to compete in the APRC again.
The number of the Rally Hokkaido: 18
It doesn’t get any better than this: the schedule for the Rally Hokkaido contained 18 stages over 220 kilometres and a ŠKODA FABIA R5 was fastest on 18 occasions. The victorious Gaurav Gill recorded the fastest time on twelve stages and his team-mate Fabian Kreim was quickest on six occasions.