Gaurav Gill finishes Day 1 of Otago Rally in top-three


Gaurav Gill.  file

Gaurav Gill. file | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

India's fastest rally driver, JK Tyre's Gaurav Gill has made himself a contender for a podium finish by finishing in the top three at the end of the opening day of the Otago Rally in New Zealand.

Gill and his New Zealand-based co-driver Jared Hudson were third on the timesheets, just over 30 seconds behind overall leader Jack Hawkswood and 11 seconds behind second-placed Robbie Stokes.

Gill and Hudson were driving the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 machine of 2022 APRC champion and 10-time Otago Rally winner Hayden Paddon.

On the first day, drivers traveled through eight special stages. Gil lost fifteen seconds on Stage 5 due to an error, but the triple-APRC champion provided evidence of his precise pace by winning Stages 4, 7 and 8.

“It has been a very unique experience; The super-fast stages are so different and varied from each other that I would describe them as extremely fast. Arjuna Award winner Gill said, I have never driven such a fast car before.

“We had a very good start in the morning stage, and now we are trying to get better at maintaining our rhythm in the tricky sections. We compete with cars more powerful than us. It makes a difference and the settings are ideal for them.

“We are happy with our performance today and will try to repeat it tomorrow too, ensuring a podium finish,” he said.

The Otago Rally is one of the world's most historic racing events and has been held annually since 1976.

This year, 117 cars have participated in the rally, the largest in four years. The rally consists of 16 special stages in a traditional mix of challenging sections.

Competitors showcased their driving skills on Saturday, across competitive stages spanning over 144 km. Another 130 kilometers will be driven on Sunday.

Gill is competing in the Otago Rally for the first time. He is a three-time winner of the Whangarei Rally, which also takes place in New Zealand.

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