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China awaits Gill vs Taguchi battle

Principal Correspondent

COIMBATORE: The battle lines are drawn. With the Indonesian leg as good as over due to rain, it will be a fight to the finish between Japan's Katsuhiko Taguchi and India's Gaurav Gill for the prestigious title in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship 2010 scheduled in China early this November.

Incidentally both drivers are from Team MRF. Taguchi (100 pts) has a three-point edge over the Indian.

But, he knows for sure it's not going to be easy for him in China with an aggressive driver like Gill around.

“Gill is very fast this year. He has committed very few mistakes but, thankfully, I am familiar with the conditions in China. At the moment, I know only 90 per cent about the car. So, it's going to be a definite advantage for Gill,” Taguchi told The Hindu over phone from Japan.

“Nevertheless, it's going to be a tough fight between us. And, I am mentally prepared for the challenge,” added the 38-year-old, who is the longest serving Asia Pacific driver and a regular competitor since 1997.

Taguchi, who last won the title in 1999, said he wants to repeat the '99 act.

“I badly want to win. I will try my best but, at the end, whoever wins it is going to be only good for the team. I must also say MRF is better prepared this year.”

Gill, who is ranked 30th in the current IRDA (International Rally Drivers' Association) rankings, knows it is his best chance to become the first Indian ever to win an APRC title.

“I am definitely prepared for the battle ahead. But, the preparations are all in the mind at the moment. This year, I have also got the maximum fastest stages. So, I am kind of positive,” said Gill from Jodhpur.

Gill positive

“I have got a smart and intelligent co-driver in Glen Macneall (from Australia, ranked 27th in the world). He has helped me so much. The engineers have all taught me a lot. I have been listening to them and learning things quickly. Also, these cars are highly advanced and technical. And, thanks to my team and its people, I now know how to set up my car for the different kinds of terrain because driving alone cannot take you to the chequered flag,” added Gill, who is eagerly looking forward to making an impact in China.

Gill said Taguchi is a smart competitor.

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