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JK Tyre’s Gaurav Gill finishes Day 1 of Otago Rally in top-three
13 April 2024

Arjuna awardee and JK Tyre’s Gaurav Gill put himself in the battle for the win with a top-three placing at the end of the opening day of the Otago Rally in New Zealand.

Piloting 2022 APRC champion and 10-time Otago Rally winner Haydon Paddon’s Hyundai i20 N Rally2 machine, Gill and his New-Zealand based co-driver Jared Hudson were third on the timesheets, a little over 30 seconds behind overall leader Jack Hawkeswood and 11 seconds adrift of second-placed Robbie Stokes.

On day one, the drivers navigated through eight special stages. Gill lost fifteen seconds on stage 5 due to an error, but the triple-APRC champion offered proof of his outright speed by winning stages 4, 7 and 8.

Gaurav Gill said, “It has been a very unique experience; the super-fast stages are so distinct and varied from one another that I would describe them as extremely fast. I have never driven this fast before. We had a pretty good start in the morning stages, and now we're trying to become better at maintaining our rhythm on the trickier parts. We are up against cars more powerful than ours. That makes a difference, and the settings are ideal for them. We are happy with our performance today and will try to replicate the same tomorrow, ensuring a podium finish.”

The Otago Rally is amongst the most historic rally events in the world and has been held every year since 1976. This year, the rally has drawn a field of 117 cars, the largest in four years. A customary mix of challenging sections comprise the 16 special stages that make up the rally.

Over 144 km of competitive stages, the contestants demonstrated their driving prowess on Saturday. On Sunday, another 130 kilometres of stages will be driven.

This is Gill’s first time competing at the Otago Rally, which with its stages made up of fast, flowing open public roads, blind brows as well as gravel strewn sections, offers a unique challenge. Gaurav is the three-time winner of the Rally of Whangarei, which also takes place in New Zealand.

Gill’s entry is also backed by Indian businessman Vamcy Merla who is also a promoter of the Otago Rally.

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