The opening round of the 2017 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) took place around the host city of Whangarei on New Zealand’s Northland. Heavy rainfall in the forests in the north of Auckland made the special stages on the first leg of the rally very slippery.

Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Skjarmoen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Team MRF. Rally of Whangarei 2017

Teammate Gaurav Gill meanwhile was struggling with the setup of his ŠKODA FABIA R5. By the end of the first day, he changed the shock absorbers, modified the differential settings and was ready to fight back for the lead. The weather improved on the final day of the rally and a thrilling and close battle for the victory evolved. On Sunday morning Gill was fastest on two stages, Veiby fought back with one scratch time. With three more stages to go, Veiby was still 23 seconds ahead of Gill. In SS 14 Veiby had a brake issue and lost a lot of time in the stage. After a roadside repair, he checked in late on the time control for the next stage, got a time penalty and dropped to second place behind teammate Gill.

Gaurav Gill / Stephane Prevot, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Team MRF. Rally of Whangarei 2017

Gaurav Gill and Stéphane Prévot celebrated their win on the podium in Whangarei after a tense and thrilling battle with their young Norwegian teammates.

2017 Rally of Whangarei – Final results:
1. Gill / Prevot (IND/BEL) ŠKODA FABIA R5 2:35:06.8 hrs
2. Veiby / Skjarmoen (NOR/NOR) ŠKODA FABIA R5 + 2:02.8 min
3. Blomberg / Andersson (SWE/SWE) Mitsubishi Mirage + 17:45.5 min
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