India's Gaurav Gill and Norwegian youngster Ole Christian Veiby set the benchmark while showcasing their pace in the International Rally of Johor, the third round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship here.
Team MRF duo of Gill and Veiby topped the time sheets during this morning's shakedown here ahead of the ceremonial flag-off and the Super Special Stage late tonight.
Delhi-based Gill, 35, was the quickest of the lot as he put in six laps around the 1.6 Kms dirt track clocking a best of one minute, 39 seconds as against 21-year old Veiby's 01:39.6.
The pair was well ahead of the pack that included WRC regular Jari Ketomaa from Finland and Swedish ace Robert Blomberg.
"Since this is my first drive in the Skoda Fabia R5 in nearly three months, I was keen to put in as much seat time as possible and am happy with how everything went today," said Gill during the pre-event FIA press conference today.
"However, the Malaysian Rally is the toughest of the championship with changing conditions and high humidity, but I am well prepared for it."
Veiby, who is driving a brand new R5 which came here straight from the factory, said his goal was to maintain his lead in the championship, referring to his two-point advantage over Gill who had won the first round in New Zealand while the Norwegian took the next in Australia.
"My target here is to stay ahead in the championship. I know Gaurav is very quick and has the experience driving in these conditions, while this is my first time in Malaysia. I hope to do well," said Veiby who recently won in the WRC-2 category in Poland.
After tonight's Super Special Stage which will be run at the same premises as the shakedown, but with a few modifications in the track configurations, the cars head to the nearby palm oil plantations for the Special Stages spread over the next two days.
Shakedown results: 1. Gaurav Gill / Stephane Prevot (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia R5) (01min, 39secs); 2. Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjarmoen (Team MRF, Skoda Fabia R5) (01:39.6); 3. Yuma Sumiyama / Takahiro Yasui (Cusco Racing, Skoda Fabia R5) (01:41.2).
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