Team Mahindra Adventure duo of National champion Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) and Amittrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik) tied to head the Overall time charts in the Super Special Stage as the Coffee Day India Rally, the concluding round of the FIA Asia Cup and the FMSCI Indian Rally Championship.
The nearly 5,000-strong crowd which braved the heat, was treated to some quality fare as Gill, the 2013 Asia Pacific Rally champion, and Ghosh swept all opposition, clocking two minutes, 43.7 seconds over the 2.28 km circuit.
Behind the duo was young Team Yokohama’s Karna Kadur (Vivek Ponnusamy) in a Volkswagen Polo who was third Overall in 02:39.0 while the third Mahindra Adventure entry Sunny Sidhu (PV Srinivas Murthy) was placed fourth in 02:39.1.
In a huge surprise, favourite Lohitt Urs (Shrikant Gowda) in an Evo VIII, returned a time of 02:43.7 which though was the best in the Asia Cup field, placed him 13th in the Overall standings.
“I am happy that our team fared well today. I didn’t try anything fancy, but just wanted to finish the Super Special Stage without any drama. It is a good confidence booster ahead of the Special Stages tomorrow as it will be a challenge to compete against all-wheel drive, turbo-charged cars. Hopefully, we will build on the early momentum and deliver a strong result,” said Gill.
Meanwhile, Rahul Kanthraj (Vivek Bhatt) of Team Yokohama topped the IRC 2000 class with 02:41.1 to strengthen his chances of clinching the championship in his category.
In the IRC 1600 class, Kadur enjoyed a one-second lead over Adith KC (Harish KN) who however, led the FMSCI Cup 1600 category.
Provisional classification (Leg-1, Section 1):
FIA Asia Cup: Lohitt Urs / Shrikant Gowda (Pvt, Evo VIII) 1 (02mins, 43.7secs); Arjun Rao Aroor / Satish Rajagopal (Team AR Racing, Volkswagen Polo R2B) 2 (02:54.7); Abhilash PG / Rohan Rego (Team Rennoil R3A, Evo VIII) 3 (02:56.0).
IRC Overall: Gaurav Gill / Musa Sherif (Team Mahindra Adventure, XUV 500) and Amittrajit Ghosh / Ashwin Naik (Team Mahindra, XUV 500) 1 (both 02:37.5); Karna Kadur / Vivek Ponnusamy (Team Yokohama, VW Polo) 3 (02:39.0); Sunny Sidhu / PV Srinivas Murthy (Team Mahindra Adventure, XUV 500) 4 (02:39.1).
IRC 2000: Rahul Kanthraj / Vivek Bhatt (Team Yokohama, Cedia) 1 (02:41.1); Sumit Panjabi / Shahid Salman (Pvt, Cedia) 2 (02:41.7); Karan AM / Suraj M (Pvt, VW Polo) 3.
IRC 1600: Karna Kadur / Vivek Ponnusamy (Team Yokohama, VW Polo) 1 (02:39.0); Adith KC / Harish KN (Pvt, Honda City V-tec) 2 (02:40.1); Raghu Nandan B / Rupesh Kholay (Pvt, Honda City V-tec) 3 (02:40.6).
FMSCI Cup 1600: Adith KC / Harish KN (Pvt, Honda City V-tec) 1 (02:40.1); Raghu Nandan B / Rupesh Kholay (Pvt, Honda City V-tec) 2 (02:40.6); Druva Chandrashekar / Jeevarathinam J (Pvt, Honda City V-tec) 3 (02:42.9)