Gill, Tidemand resume rivalry in Malaysian Rally

Johor (Malaysia), Aug 13 (IANS) India’s top rally driver Gaurav Gill (co-driver Glen Macneall) and his MRF Skoda teammate Pontus Tidemand (Emil Axelsson) are set to face new challenges in the Malaysian Rally — the fourth round of Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).

The south Malaysian province of Johor will host the rally amidst tropical forests and rubber plantations from August 14 to 16. The rally marks the Asian swing of the championship after the Pacific rounds that concluded with the International Rally of Queensland.

The tropical conditions with temperatures in low 30s and high humidity of 60-80 percent, not to forget the torrential showers, will pose plenty of challenges for the drivers.

“Getting a grip on the conditions is the key in Malaysia. It’s a very demanding rally because of the heat and humidity,” said Gill.

“It’s easy to lose concentration on the narrow tracks through the forests and plantations and when it rains over here it really pours. The tyre choice is also critical because the conditions keep changing.”

Gill, whose championship bid suffered a setback in Queensland when his Skoda Fabia S2000 engine blew on the second day. The Indian is keen to return to the top step of the podium here.

Gill goes into this round on the back of his experience and familiarity of the conditions. He won here last year and has finished second four times.

For Tidemand, it will be the first time out in this part of the world. Coming from much cooler and drier conditions in Europe, he will need to acclimatise quickly to heat and humidity. Tidemand goes into this round with a healthy lead over Gill, who did not finish in Australia. But as the Swede has shown, he can adapt very quickly to alien conditions.

For this rally, Gill’s S2000 has got a new engine after the previous one suffered terminal damage in Australia.

“It’s important for me to win here to keep Pontus in sight after my setback in Australia. I have the experience of driving and winning in Malaysia. I am looking forward to resume our fight. Pontus is a very good driver and he has shown that he can adapt to local conditions very quickly,” said Gill.

The Malaysian Rally comprises 14 stages over two legs covering a distance of 226.56 km. This year, the second and the ninth stages are new additions and will be run twice. The first leg will consist of eight stages covering 160.64 km while the second leg will cover 65.92 km over six stages.

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