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Interview with Gaurav Gill, Professional Rally Driver
ZW: How do you rate the 2012 APRC season?
Gaurav: The 2012 season was special for numerous reasons. Firstly, it has been almost a decade since we have had such brilliant drivers taking part, including the top 4-5 drivers from the World Rallying Championship (WRC) who took part in a number of the rallies throughout the season. For me, that was great because I got to compete against the best and in many ways it was an opportunity to measure just where I stand as a driver. Secondly, I had Chris Atkinson as my partner and finally I was driving a new car, the Skoda Super 2000. All this made for a very exciting season.
ZW: What was it like to have Chris Atkinson as your partner?
Gaurav: As you know, Chris is a WRC driver who has driven for The Subaru World Rally Team as well Team Mini Portugal. He’s a strong teammate to have and there is an immense amount of knowledge that one can gain from such a seasoned driver. I would say that it was the best thing to happen to me at this juncture in my career. He was helpful, gave me a lot of insight and as a result I am sure that my driving improved.
ZW: For 2012 you also had a new car. Can you elaborate about that?
Gaurav: It was time to come out of the Mitsubishi Evo X and get behind the wheel of the Skoda Fabia S2000, having said that, it was a tough year as well. The Skoda is just so different in terms of its mannerisms that in many ways was like going back to the drawing board in understanding a rally car. Firstly it was left hand drive. In fact it only comes in left hand drive and that was a major change. Secondly it wasn’t like the Evo X in terms of power delivery. The Skoda was all about keeping it in its boost range around 10000rpm! It is a highly technical car and felt like a go cart to drive on gravel.
ZW: Did you get enough time to practice with the new car, or was it the deep end of the pool for you?
Gaurav: Unlike other races where you have 14-15 rounds, the APRC is a short season so there isn’t much time to practice. I was in for a tough time and I had to mentally prepare myself accordingly. I kept telling myself that it’s either go flat out or go home. After all, the team doesn’t have a very long leash on offering a driver a learning curve. You either have it or you don’t. I guess my strategy worked and I constantly managed to clock some of the fastest stage times during the season.