Sriperumbudur: Defending champion Gaurav Gill asserted his supremacy in the opening round of the MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship 2018, jumping into an early lead after Day 1 of the MRF 40th edition of South India Rally, here on Saturday.
Gill, along with his trusted co-driver, Musa Sherif, survived an early scare with the brakes on his Super XUV 500 before slowly coming into his own and winning the last four stages. The Team Mahindra Adventure pair needed just 44 minutes and 35 seconds to complete the day’s five stages, including one SSS, and stay ahead of the pack. But they know that it won’t be an easy ride on Sunday, with as many as five drivers within striking distance of him.
INRC 2 competitors, Younus Ilyas & Harish Kumar (Team Younus Ilyas) were snapping on his heels all through the day, taking the second position with an impressive timing of 45:39.5. They were just a little over a minute behind Gill.
They showed a lot of speed and power in the first two stages to build up an early advantage; they slipped a little in the third and the fourth stages but recovered again in the fifth to hold on to second position overnight.
Karna Kadur & Nikhil V Pai (INRC 2; Arka Motorsports) and Amittrajit Ghosh & Ashwin Naik (INRC; Mahindra Adventure) took the third and fourth places with Ghosh complaning of overheating issues all day, while Dean Mascarenhas & Shruptha Padival (Falkon Motorsports) and Arjun Rao & Satish Rajagopal (also Falkon Motorsports) finished the day fifth and sixth. The exciting part was that all of them took less than a minute and a half more than Gill.
The day itself began with a tiny surprise. Veteran rallyist Vicky Chandhok took advantage of his intimate knowledge of the MMRT to upstage a 31-strong field of young drivers in the SSS on tarmac. Vicky, who was making a comeback after 18 years at the ripe age of 61, cracked the course in 2 minutes flat, which was 3 seconds faster than even Gill.
Gill, took the setback in his stride as his Super XUV 500 is not suited for the race track, and reclaimed the advantage in the next stage.
Results: (Leaders after Day 1)
1) Gaurav Gill/Musa Sherif (Team Mahindra Adventure) - 44:35.0 mins; 2) Younus Ilyas/Harish Kumar (Team Younus Ilyas) - 45:39.5 mins; 3) Karna Kadur/Nikhil V Pai (Arka Motorsports) - 45:44.2 mins
1) Younus Ilyas/Harish Kumar (Team Younus Ilyas) - 45:39.5 mins; 2) Karna Kadur/Nikhil V Pai (Arka Motorsports) - 45:44.2 mins; 3) Rahul Kanthraj/Vivek Y Bhatt (Arka Motorsports) - 46:57.7 mins
1) Dean Mascarenhas/Shruptha Padival (Falkon Motorsports) - 45:51.1 mins; 2) Aroor Vikram Rao/Somayya A.G (Falkon Motorsports) - 46:10.2 mins; 3) Chetan Shivram/Rupesh Kholay (Team Akshara) - 46:16.4 mins