Interview: Gaurav Gill on competing in the WRC 2 championship with Team MRF in 2018
The announcement has officially come through about Gaurav Gill and Team MRF making the switch to the 2018 WRC 2 championship. We spoke to the three-time APRC champion about how things unfolded, what we can expect from the 2018 season, and what plans Team MRF has for the future.
On the rallies they will compete in:
There will be another press release in another week or ten days, by the end of the month, where we will reveal the rallies that we're doing and the car. But we will not do any tarmac rallies this year. We will not register this year, because we're mid-season and it's not possible to register. We will register in 2019 and do the entire season, 2019 onwards.
On the tyre choice for 2018:
We're going to run only on MRF tyres, and our aim is to collect a lot of data and do R&D. Each rally will be at least 350 km of stages. And prior to each rally we're trying to do at least 50 to 100 km of testing. We're going to try to get test mileage, data, evolve our tyres and do a lot of R&D on our tyres.
On the make of car that will be used in 2018 and how easy it will be to adapt to:
We're currently doing product RnD. I can tell you we are not going to drive with Skoda, but I cannot tell you what we're driving for another ten days. Myself and MRF are keen to have a partner who is as interested, and keen to be where we are. It will be a one-car team this year. Usually R5 cars are quite similar. We're looking at similar technology and similar regulations from the FIA. So it's not going to be a massive difference, but of course, it will be different than the other car (the Fabia R5 with which he won his last two titles). But I'll continue to be what I have been all my life. I don't really care what I have, as long as I have a steering wheel and a rally car, I'll adapt to the situations. I keep adapting to situations and the cars that are given to me. I'll continue to do that again.
On his co-driver for 2018:
Well, there is some uncertainty on that. Since we decided on the season a little late, Stephane (Prevot) has committed to someone else. He may do one odd rally, with me. But there is a possibility of Glenn Macneall coming back.
On his road to WRC2:
I really always wanted to be in WRC, because I felt I could drive amongst and against those drivers. And I think you guys will also not disagree with me on this, that I've been showing my speed and competing against these guys. And in rallies that none of us have done. Even last year we did one or two rallies that nobody had attempted before and I could show that I was right up there leading the rally with OC (Ole Christian Veiby) and (Jari) Ketomaa. I knew my speed for the last couple of years. But I wanted to make sure that we have an Indian team, or an Indian supporter in MRF, because they gave me the chance several years ago. Because of them I was able to show my talent, and show myself for who I am. So I'm happy that this has come in a positive way where MRF, after 10 years of partnering with them, is again my partner.
On how prepared he is ahead of the 2018 season:
I train myself, I've been very hard on myself. That's because the conditions were like that. I never had 25 rallies to do, the way these guys do. These guys would literally practice every weekend. And I would get six chances a year. And most of the rallies would have no testing. So the Shakedown would be literally when I first drove the car. The first day I would drive, I would be on pace with these guys. For me it's been a struggle all my career to match the best drivers. And these guys have been thrown against me, and that has really pushed me and made me develop this new feeling, or this new power that I generate. I just sit in the car and I switch myself on and I can go flatout in the first corner. And in spite of not driving the car for six months. I've gained some ability, and mentally I've trained myself to do that. But whatever is happening is great and I'm really excited.
On his feeling ahead of the his first outing in the 2018 WRC:
I can't wait to switch on the car and go flat out!
On his rallying commitments with Mahindra:
Of course, my rallying will continue in the INRC. But I'm still pushing them to go to Dakar. And I have a positive feeling about this. There's been a lot of development, I can't say more than that, but very positive developments.