The nations top-notch rally driver, Gaurav Gill and navigator Musa Sherif in a Mahindra XUV 500, stormed into the lead by almost a minute and a half at the conclusion of leg 1 of an eventful JK Tyre-powered Rally of Coimbatore, the second round of the FMSCI-Indian Rally Championship (IRC).
A wet and windy day saw Gill’s Mahindra Adventure teammate Amittrajit Ghosh and Ashwin Naik retire midway owing to mechanical problems, while PG Abilash and KR Kumar of R3A PGA Motorsport in a Mitsubishi Evo6, dropped out during the transport section after being second overall after four Special Stages.
Where eight cars in a field of 36 retired during Leg 1. At the conclusion of four Special Stages and a wet Super Special Stage (SSS), Arjun Rao and Sathish Rajagopal in a VW Polo were second in the IRC overall, while leading in the IRC 1600cc category, and Mahindra Adventure’s Sunny Sidhu and PV Srinivas Murthy were third in the IRC.
Team Yokohama’s Rahul Kantharaj and Vivek Bhatt in a Mitsubishi Cedia were fourth overall and on top of the ladder in the IRC 2000cc category while their Team Yokohama mates Vikram Devadesen and Shrikanth in a VW Polo were fifth overall and second in the IRC 1600 class.
Gill, winner of the opening round of the Indian Rally Championship in Nashik, was quickest in three of the day’s five stages. “I realised I had to do something different after Abhilash turned out to be the fastest in the first stage,” said Gill. “We made adjustments to the suspension among other things and I was all the more aggressive.” Gill, however, appeared cautious in the SSS.
Kochi’s Abhilash, who returned to competitive rallying after a gap of five years was always a constant threat to Gill, until he dropped out owing to mechanical problems. He came second behind Gill in Super Stages 2, 3 and 4.
Unofficial classification after Leg 1:
Indian Rally Championship (IRC):
1. Gaurav Gill/Musa Sherif (Mahindra Adventure) (01:06.53.7)
2. Arjun Rao/Satish Rajagopal (01:08.23.4)
3. Sunny Sidhu/PV Srinivas Murthy (Mahindra Adventure) (01:09.23.1)
4. Rahul Kantharaj/Vivek Bhatt (Team Yokohama) (01:10.12.2)
5. Vikram Devadasen/Shrikanth (Team Yokohama) (01:10.18.8).
1. Rahul Kantharaj/Vivek Bhatt (Team Yokohama)
2. Byram Godrej/AG Somayya
3. Prithivi Dominic/MS Ravindra.
1. Arjun Rao/Satish Rajagopal
2. Vikram Devadasen/Shrikanth (Team Yokohama)
3. Phalguna Urs/Anoop Kumar.
FMSCI 1600 cc Cup:
1. B Raghu Nandan/K Suraj
2. KC Adith/KN Harish
3. Aniruddha Rangnekar/Nitin Jacob.