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At Rally Hokkaido, second but last round of the 2017 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), Team MRF ŠKODA’s Gaurav Gill and co-driver Stéphane Prévot achieved a dominant win. They took the lead on the second stage and defended it up to the finish line. Meanwhile, their teammates, talented Norwegian shooting stars Ole Christian Veiby and Stig Rune Skjaermœn, had bad luck. With a slow puncture, they slid into a ditch on the third stage and had to retire for the day. After re-starting on the second leg they were fastest overall on the final day eventually scoring valuable points for the championship. While reigning APRC Champion Gaurav Gill regained the lead in the drivers’ championship from teammate Veiby, ŠKODA prematurely won the FIA APRC Cup for Manufacturers. Also, Team MRF ŠKODA became the winner of the APRC Teams Award. The drivers and co-drivers title will be decided only between the two MRF ŠKODA teams at Rally of India (24 to 26 November 2017).

Temporary rainfalls made the gravel tracks on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido even more demanding for the teams competing in the fourth round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC). On the shortest stage of the whole championship, the 0.96 kilometres of the opening show stage “Sammy Satsunai” close to the service park, O.C. Veiby was fastest followed by teammate and reigning APRC Champion Gaurav Gill.

Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjærmoen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Team MRF. Rally Hokkaido 2017

On the opening stage next morning, Gill scored the fastest time and everybody expected the thrilling season-long battle between Gill and Veiby to be continued in Japan. But on the 29 kilometres of the third stage, all went wrong for the Norwegian youngster. After a big jump a shock absorber broke followed by a slow puncture. Veiby slightly went off the road, unfortunately got stuck in a ditch and had to retire. From there on Gaurav Gill was clearly in command, scored all the fastest time of the day and built up a comfortable lead.

Gaurav Gill / Stéphane Prévot, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Team MRF. Rally Hokkaido 2017 (Photo: Racetorque / Darshan Chokhani‏)
Gaurav Gill

ŠKODA youngster Ole Christian Veiby could re-start on Sunday, won the second leg and scored valuable championship points.

Ole Christian Veiby

Reigning APRC Champion Gaurav Gill has it now in his hands to win his third title after 2013 and 2016 at the Rally of India (24 to 26 November 2017). 

Gaurav Gill
Gaurav Gill / Stéphane Prévot, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Team MRF. Rally Hokkaido 2017 (Photo: Racetorque / Darshan Chokhani‏)
Michal Hrabánek
2017 Rally Hokkaido – Final Results:
1. Gill / Prévot (IND/BEL) ŠKODA FABIA R5 +1:53:21.8 hrs
2. Blomberg / Andersson (SWE/SWE) Mitsubishi Mirage AP4 +11:41.4 min
3. Imai / Farmer (JPN/NZL) Subaru Impreza WRX STi +14:43.6 min

Number of the day: 0.96

With 0.96 kilometres only Rally Hokkaido’s special stage “Sammy Satsunai” is the shortest stage of the entire 2017 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.

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