Kopecky second at New Zealand
India’s Gaurav Gill and Australian based co-driver Glenn Macneall clean swept today’s six special stages concluding the 2014 VINZ International Rally of Whangarei - snatching victory from overnight leader and team mate Jan Kopecký.
The opening round of the 2014 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) saw competitors head south for today’s six remaining special stages – to roads more familiar to Gill, driver of the MRF Tyres ŠKODA Fabia S2000 car.
Starting behind Kopecký for the day of double run stages, Gill was in a closely fought battle for stage honours, until the 32-year-old found advantage on the 27.43km Springfield test. Pulling out a time 25 seconds faster than his rival was all Gill needed to put his MRF Tyres team mate behind him for the run to the finish. Defending the gain second time round, Gill added a further 1.1 seconds to win by a competitive 11.9 seconds after 220.87km of competition.
“We’ve come close to winning here before but every year we’ve had some issue either technical or mechanical,” said the outwardly calm Gill – runner-up in 2013.
“This time it was the best way to win – to come from the back, especially being down by 23 seconds – it was a massive amount of time to make up in this situation.
“The most important thing is it was a level playing field for Kopecký and I. He is the European champion and I’m the defending champion so is good benchmark for me. Plus we had new stages this rally and I had to push really hard – that’s what makes the win so much more exciting for me and the team.”
In the sister MRF Tyres ŠKODA Fabia S2000 car Czech Republic based Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dresler took consolation in his placing. The first time the 32-year-old has been to New Zealand, it was also his first time in the car and using the Indian manufactured tyre.
“We had a really good fight all weekend so thanks a lot to Gaurav for that because you need to be pushed by an opponent to be able to improve. I don’t have so much experience at these gravel rallies and it being the first time for me to compete so far away from home so we are happy with the result,” he said.