Gaurav Gill was in blazing form at the wheels of his Mahindra XUV as he and navigator Musa Sherif showed immense skills and patience to win the Rally of Coimbatore on a warm and sunny Sunday and again emerge national champions.
By winning two legs on tarmac in Itanagar last month and coming to the leafy environs of Kethanur, 40km outside Coimbatore, where the rally stages were situated, Gill showed he was also the king on gravel as well.
For JK Tyre, the return to the rallying scene with a bang after a long hiatus could not have been sweeter. The comeback to the latest season in a year of the pandemic has been simply captivating.
It was a brave decision on part of the FMSCI’s INRC and the competing teams to go ahead with the rally season despite fears over the Corona virus.
From Saturday to Sunday afternoon, Gill had a lot of problems, though by sheer dint of experience and his large heart he conquered the elements and technical glitches in the car. From Stage 1 on Saturday till the end of Stage 6 on Sunday, Gill's rally machine was not in best shape.
The car was in "limp mode" where he was not able to drive at the maximum speed he wanted on a demanding surface where gravel, hard pieces of stone and rock lit up the proceedings.
There were twists and turns, cars kicking up dust which made the two days of rallying action a joy to watch. "I am extremely happy to win three rallies in a row and become national champion for the seventh time,” said an emotional Gill.
The champion rally driver from Delhi who trains very hard and is mentally a picture of composure, adapted well. "I knew I was not able to push beyond 100 or 105kmph in dirt. I had to drive technically and ensure I finished. I must thank Hardy Sir (Sanjay Sharma) of JK Tyre for being ever supportive. We have won the championship and this is pure joy," said Gill.
"In 2020, when lockdown happened, I was simply training at home for nine months in the gym. To get back into the car, for which I thank Mahindras and JK Tyre for this booster. It has been a difficult year for all of us, and to be in the sport is a joy," said Gill.
Between Gill and Musa, the duo have participated in 63 rallies together, with 39 rally finishes, 38 on the podium and 36 wins. Such is their dominance, they are true champions who are inspirational for the Gen Next.
Rally legend Hari Singh was full of praise for the organisers. "It was not easy for Gill with the car on limp mode. He showed what a champion he is by keeping things simple despite problems. To have kept all the boys in good health and shape was a challenge. Over to Bengaluru, we must seal the last event with a win as well next month," said Hari.
Meanwhile, Gill was heading back to the grind. "I am going out with Leela to check what is wrong with my car. It needs to be sorted out now. That is my way of performing," said Gill with a smile.