Interview with Gaurav Gill, Professional Rally Driver
Driving for Team MRF in the FIA APRC is Gaurav Gill, India's leading rally driver. He had an interesting season in 2012 behind the wheel of a new Skoda Fabia S2000 and in a candid discussion with ZigWheels; he opened up about his rallying, APRC, and ambition for the future
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.
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