Indian tyre giant MRF in partnership with Czech car manufacturer SKODA will be fielding a two-car team spearheaded by India’s Gaurav Gill and his long-time co-driver Glenn Macneall (Australia) in the 2016 Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

The rally opens with the International Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand scheduled for April 30-May 1.

The second MRF-SKODA entry is Germany’s Fabian Kreim with compatriot Frank Christian in the co-driver’s seat. Both Gill, winner of the Rally of Whangarei in 2014, and Kreim will be driving the Race Torque-prepared Skoda Fabia R5.

While for 34-year old Delhi-based Gill will debut in the Skoda R5, Kreim has had considerable seat time as he is the current driver for the Skoda Auto Deutschland team in the German Rally Championship where the 23-year old finished second in 2015 with five wins.

Looking ahead to the event and the season, Gill said in a release on Thursday: “It will be a fresh challenge for me. The car is new which I have never driven before, and a new team-mate who has had considerable experience in the R5 which is very different from the R4 that I was driving. The previous two seasons haven’t been good for me, but I want to put all that behind and focus on the 2016 championship.”

Kreim, who replaces 2015 APRC champion Swede Pontus Tidemand, said in the statement: “I am absolutely delighted to be able to take on the challenge of the APRC with SKODA. All the rallies are obviously completely new to me and I will have a lot to learn. However, I hope I can establish myself among the front-runners and challenge for race wins as quickly as possible at these international events.”

    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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