Team MRF drivers ready for tough Malaysian challenge
26 Oct 2016 - Team Release

Team MRF drivers Gaurav Gill and Fabian Kreim head into this weekend’s Malaysian Rally full of confidence, but for different reasons.

India’s Gill currently leads the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) after four victories from the four qualifying rounds this year, while Kreim heads to Malaysia having just clinched his first German Rally Championship last weekend. Both drivers will line up for the two-day, 14 stage event in their Team MRF Skoda Fabia R5s that have proven to be the class of the field in this year’s APRC.

Victories in New Zealand, Australia, China and Japan have given Gill and his Australian co-driver, Glenn Macneall, a 42-point lead, but with two rounds still to run there is still everything to play for. But put simply, if he wins in Malaysia, the 2016 title is his. “We have had a perfect season and have the title in our own hands in Malaysia. My team-mate Fabian Kreim still has a chance of winning the title – it is going to be another exciting battle,” Gill said. “It would obviously be a dream to travel as champion to the grand finale of the APRC season in my native India.”

For the fifth time this season, Kreim and co-driver, Frank Christian, will be entering an APRC event for the first time and will need to quickly come to grips with the tricky Malaysian conditions. The temperatures inside the rally car are often 50 degrees centigrade, and with humidity of up to 80% the event is a real test of man and machine. “I am very happy with my first season in the APRC and didn’t believe I would be challenging for the title at the first attempt,” Kreim said. “However, my chances of winning the title are very slim and Gaurav has driven a flawless season so far. All that is missing from me is a win, and I’m out to change that in Malaysia.”

The Malaysian Rally covers 227km of competitive stages around the Tai Tuck estates near Kota Tinggi. While the scenery is stunning, the stages take no prisoners and are one of the biggest tests in a long APRC season. The roads are fast and flowing through the palm oil plantations, but countless junctions and hidden crests add to the challenge.

“This is undoubtedly one of the hardest events of the year, both for the competitors and the service crews,” Team MRF boss, Lane Heenan, said. “The high temperatures and energy-sapping humidity can really take their toll on everyone, and performing for long periods in these conditions isn’t easy. “Guarav’s experience of these stages and from competing in Malaysia many times will give him an advantage over Fabian, but anything can happen.”

This will be the 12th running of the Malaysian Rally, which this year is being held in a season when the weather is usually wet, and the stages muddy. After 14 stages, it may well be a survival of the fittest.

APRC pointscore after round 4 of 6:
1. Gaurav Gill 146 points
2. Fabian Kreim 104
3. Michael Young 85
4. Manfred Stohl 37
5. Hitoshi Takayama 35

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