Team Champions’ Dean Mascarenhas survived a late resurgence from rally ace Gaurav Gill to the win the South India Rally, which kicked off the 2019 season of the Champions Yacht Club-FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship (INRC).
Competing as an entry in the INRC 2 category, Mascarenhas and co-driver Shruptha Padival moved into the lead on the second day and headed into the third and final day of the rally with a healthy 10sec overall lead. Team Mahindra’s Gill, on the other hand, along with co-driver Musa Sherif was around 1.41min off the lead at the time, after running into some struggles early on in his rally-prepped turbo-petrol XUV300. The South India Rally marked the first competitive outing for Mahindra’s new Super XUV300 INRC challenger.
However, after making some setup changes on the final day, Gill was able to make up some lost ground, finishing the first stage of the day in 2nd place and winning all the remaining four stages. He did lose some time on the penultimate stage when a herd of cows blocked his path, but the stewards awarded him 10sec for the delay. Rally leader and former INRC 3 champion Mascarenhas, meanwhile, was battling problems as well after his car lost a cylinder on the second day. He, however, managed to hold on to take a breakthrough victory.
“My car had lost one of the four cylinders on Saturday itself and it kept stalling, adding to the pressure. I, however, held my nerves and came through, making this one of my sweetest wins,” said Mascarenhas. His team-mate Fabid Ahmer (co-driver Sanath G) slotted into 2nd place overall to make it a 1-2 finish for Team Champions. Additionally, this also handed Mascarenas and Ahmer victory in the INRC 2 and INRC 3 categories respectively.
Gill’s late resurgence in form handed him 3rd place in the overall standings by just a second and victory in the INRC category. “We worked very hard to make up for the lacklustre first two days. We changed the tyres and the setup at every opportunity and it paid dividends until bad luck hit us,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vaibhav Marate and co-driver Arjun SSB won in the INRC 4 category.
1) Dean Mascarenhas & Shruptha Padival – 1:45.10.800 hr; 2) Fabid Ahmer & Sanath G – 1:45:24.400 hr; 3) Gaurav Gill & Musa Sherif – 1:45:27.800 hr
1) Gaurav Gill & Musa Sherif – 1:45:27.800 hr; 2) Phalguna URS & Srikanth Gowda – 1:48:04.500 hr
1) Dean Mascarenhas & Shruptha Padival – 1:45.10.800 hr; 2) Rahul Kanthraj & Vivek Bhatt – 1:45:28.600 hr; 3) Ritesh Guttedar.M & Lokaranjan H.J – 1:53:13.300 hr
1) Fabid Ahmer & Sanath G – 1:45:24.400 hr; 2) Arjun Rao & Shanmuga Sundaram – 1:46:40.200 hr; 3) Daraius Shroff & Sheeraz Ahmed – 1:47:40.700 hr
1) Vaibhav Marate & Arjun SSB – 1:53:02.100 hr; 2) Rakshith Iyer & Chandrashekar – 1:54:30.700 hr; 3) Shirole Prakhyat. H & Bharath S.M – 1:59:19.700 hr