It finally happened! After years of dominating both the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) and the Asian Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), Gaurav Gill will finally be stepping up to the World Rally Championship when he competes in the WRC 2 class later this year albeit only in a few selected rounds.
Gaurav Gill’s first foray into the world of motorsport came when he began competing in the motocross championship at the age of 16, this was due to the fact that one could only get their competitive rally license in India only at the age of 18 and rather than twiddling his thumbs for two years, Gill made the conscious decision to begin racing bikes. A terrible accident would eventually force Gill to give up racing bikes and he switched his focus to racing on 4-wheels, a decision he would not regret. One of the biggest landmarks in his career came when he was selected for the J.K.Tyre Rally team, where after a series of grueling tests that were conducted under the watchful eyes of multiple APRC and 2002 PWRC’s champion Karamjit Singh, Gill was selected to drive for the team on the national stage, though he would eventually spend a majority of his career racing for the MRF brand instead. Being a competitor at heart, Gill also ventured into racing formula cars, something he began in the 2004 J.K.Tyre National Road Racing Championship. Racing in the Formula Maruthi Class in 2003, he won the same championship in 2004 and though he was out of racing for the most part in 2005 due to the aforementioned accident, he returned to win the hotly contested Formula Rolon series (which was India’s premiere Formula Car championship at the time) in 2006. By the end of 2006 however Gill’s heart would pine for a full time return to rallying and there was no looking back from there.
His decision would yield immediate success as he ended the year by winning his first INRC title, a championship he would win a further 4 times and he also made his foray into the APRC championship during the year competing in a Team MRF Mitsubishi Evo. Though he initially suffered a series of DNF’s he used these experiences as a development tool, which would eventually see him win his first rally in the APRC during 2008 season when he won at the Rally of Indonesia. The second landmark moment in Gaurav Gill’s career came in 2013 when he became the first Indian to win the APRC championship outright. Not being one to settle he followed up this success by repeating the act, winning back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017. Having cemented himself as one of the best rally drivers in both India and Asia the obvious next step was to compete in the WRC. However like numerous other drivers from India a lack of financial support can be attributed to Gill’s career stagnating somewhat.
Rallying like any other form of motor racing is expensive. Gaurav Gill’s long time sponsor MRF, who have also run Gaurav Gill under their team banner for his entire APRC career, will have played a crucial role in helping Gill move up the ladder by providing the necessary financial support he requires. MRF who are famed for only backing drivers and championships that use their tires will stand to benefit massively from this association, as the R&D they gain from competing on the stages used in the WRC is sure to improve their road tires. Further their involvement could potentially see them become a supplier to the WRC as in order for Gill to compete full time in the series using MRF rubber, they in turn would have to become an official supplier to the series. The icing on the cake would be the huge marketing potential from having an Indian company support an Indian driver on a global stage something that is few and far between currently.
Business aside, after years of watching several of his competitors, many of whom he has beaten, it is only fair that Gill gets his shot in the big leagues. The biggest challenge may come in the form of a switch in the car he will compete with as Gill himself has admitted that he will not be using his tried and tested Skoda Fabia R5 rally car which has brought him so much success. Further challenges may come from the rally conditions themselves as well as an increase in the level of competition he faces, however given what he has accomplished already I’m sure he’s more than up for the challenge. Here’s wishing him the best of luck in his future endeavours with speed.
Cover photo: Gaurav Gill Facebook