Jan Kopecky wins 2014 Rally of Hokkaido
Gaurav Gill secured victory at Rally Hokkaido last year, and went in with only 8 points separating him from Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic). Rally Hokkaido this year too saw the drivers’ title race still wide open. Czech driver Jan Kopeck led with 112 points before race start. Gill approached the race hoping to win here again this year in order to defend his Drivers’ title. With Jan (Kopecký) being a quick learner at rallies that are new to him, for Gill the strategy was to go flat out from the word go in Japan in this make or break it race.
Kopecky want’t perturbed after the mechanical problem and retirement in Malaysia. Race began with a ceremonial start and a 1km Satsunai Super Special, followed by 222km of stages on Saturday and Sunday. An accident saw Indian rallying Ace and Team MRF Tyres driver Gaurav Gill endure extensive damage to his car in the penultimate round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) making his quest for a top position in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship that Gill won in 2013 look remote. Gill’s retirement saw Team MRF driver Tyres Kopecky take over the lead of APRC Rally Hokkaido, 25 seconds ahead of Japan’s Toshi Arai.
After seven stages and 70 kilometers, Gaurav Gill led the 2014 APRC Rally of Hokkaido. On stage 8 Yam Wakka, a high speed crash saw his race thwarted. Kopecky hope the car came back to finish so the MRF team secures the APRC Manufacturer’s award, however Gill’s Skoda Fabia was unable to restart. Today’s race day saw MRF Skoda driver Jan Kopecky win the Rally of Hokkaido and become the 2014 Asia Pacific Rally Champion with a round to spare. He leads at 151 points, and Gaurav Gill remains at 104 points.