As expected, reigning National champion Gaurav Gill and co-driver Musa Sherif claimed the Overall title by a sizeable margin in the Mahindra Adventure Rally of Maharashtra, the second round of the FMSCI Indian Rally Championship which concluded here on Sunday.
Gill, the 33-year old Delhi-based 2013 Asia Pacific champion sealed his fifth Rally of Maharashtra title after the two concluding rounds of the Spectator Special Stage that were run on Sunday, winning by a margin of three minutes, 59 seconds.
While Gill cruised to victory in the Rally organized by the Western India Sports Association, the drive of the day came from Mangaluru’s Arjun Rao Aroor (co-driver Sathish Rajagopal) who, piloting the Volkswagen Polo R2 made up a 10-second overnight deficit and pipped Mahindra Adventure’s Amittrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik) by just one second to finish second Overall.
Ghosh and Aroor were tied going into the final run of the Spectator Special Stage. “I just didn’t think how much time I had to make up, but drove the car to its limits. I am extremely happy that I managed to make one place to finish second,” said Aroor.
Gill was pleased as punch in scoring his 21st win with Sherif over the past eight years. “I just love the Rally of Maharashtra. The Special Stages are very technical and fast which suit my driving style.
Obviously, it is great to start the domestic season on a winning note and we hope to carry forward the momentum,” said Gill.
Finishing behind the top three was Mysuru’s Lohitt Urs (Srikant Gowda) in a Mitsubisihi EVO VIII that arrived in Nashik barely hours before the Rally commenced on Friday.
“Our spares and tyres came only after we completed the first loop of the Stages on Friday. Until then, we were running on street tyres with just 50 litres of fuel to play with. It was tough, but we will do much better in the remaining four rounds of the IRC,” said Urs who came back to rallying after a year’s break.
Meanwhile, Bengaluru’s Rahul Kanthraj and his co-driver of 15 seasons, Vivek Bhatt, driving a Mitsubishi Cedia for Team Yokohama, comfortably won the IRC 2000cc class where he faced little or no competition.
“We had an excellent outing here in Nashik. Hopefully, we will continue to perform for the rest of the season. The car was superb and so were the Yokohama tyres,” said Kanthraj.
Topping the IRC 1600cc class was 21-year old Dean Mascarenas from Mangaluru and co-driver Sudipta Padival in a VW Polo.
“We are extremely happy to have won the title here and a great start to the new season. We had no issues with our car and except for the mistake in Friday’s Spectator Special Stage when due to an under-steer I crashed into the barriers, everything was just perfect,” said Mascarenhas.
In the FMSCI 1600 Cup, Dhruva C (Jeeva Rathinam) took the honours in the Honda City V-Tec, as he easily held on to a big overnight lead.
Provisional, Final classification:
IRC Overall: Gaurva Gill / Musa Sherif (Mahindra Adventure, Mahindra XUV 500) 1 (01 Hr, 31mins, 28secs); Arjun Rao Aroor / Sathish Rajagopal (Volkswagen Polo R2) 2 (01:35:27); Amittrajit Ghosh / Ashwin Naik (Mahindra Adventure, Mahindra XUV 500) 3 (01:35:28).
IRC 2000cc: Rahul Kanthraj / Vivek Bhatt (Team Yokohama, Cedia) 1 (01:38:06); Hrishikesh Thackersey / Ninad Mirajgaonkar (VW Polo) 2 (01:41:52); Sumit Panjabi / Sagar M (Cedia) 3 (01:43:36).
IRC 1600cc: Dean Mascarenhas / Sudipta Padiwal (VW Polo) 1 (01:38:17); Dr Biku Babu / George Milen (VW Polo) 2 (01:42:12); Vikram Rao Aroor / AG Somayya (VW Polo) 3 (01:44:44).
FMSCI 1600 Cup: Dhruva C /Jeeva Rathinam (Honda City V-Tec) 1 (01:44:49); Ashwin Reddy Daram / Salman Shahid (Rally Cross, Honda City V-Tec) 2 (01:45:43); Adith KC / Harish KN (Kari Sports, Honda City V-Tec) 3 (01:46:10).