Gaurav Gill, the seven-time national champion, was forced to pull out due to an electrical issue with his car when he was ahead by 49 seconds in the Rally of Coimbatore, the first round of the FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship 2021, here on Saturday.
With Gill out of the way, Bengaluru’s Karna Kadur and co-driver Nikhil Pai (Arka Motorsports) took the overall lead on a day of shock exits.
Driving a Volkswagen Polo, Kadur enjoyed a lead of over one minute in the Overall standings after four loops of the extremely dusty Special Stages ahead of Himachal Pradesh’s Aditya Thakur (Virender Kashyap) and Mangaluru’s Dean Mascarenhas (Gagan Karumbaiah) who, however, is placed first in INRC-2 category. Thakur leads the INRC-3 class at the end of Leg-1.
The Rally, organised by Coimbatore Auto Sports Club, will conclude on Sunday when the two physical Special Stages will be run twice in the reverse order. The scheduled start is at 8:48 am.
This morning, 7-times National champion Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) packed up after SS-2 due to an electrical issue with their Mahindra XUV 300 and when he was ahead by 49 seconds.
Also to retire was 2019 champion Chetan Shivram (Dilip Sharan) from Bengaluru with a broken drive-shaft in SS-1. Both Gill and Shivram, however, will rejoin the rally on Sunday in a bid to secure Leg points.
Kadur, despite nil seat time, showed tremendous pace. “I made some mistakes with the set-up for the first loop, but otherwise, enjoyed a good run despite not having any seat time in the car ahead of the rally,” Kadur was quoted as saying by the organisers.
On his part, Thakur, whose driving skills are honed in the mountains of Himachal, was fortunate to survive a crash after his Polo hit a tree in SS-1, damaging the front fender.
“The incident did not really affect the performance of the car. I had a good pace today and hopefully, we will do better tomorrow,” said Thakur.
Meanwhile, fancied Fabid Ahmer (G Sanath) from Palakkad, who is considered a front-runner for a podium finish, had a disappointing day after suffering a puncture on SS-1 and he continued with it in SS-2 before changing the tyre at the service halt.
It pushed him to fourth in the Overall standings.
Provisional results (after Leg-1):
Overall / INRC: 1. Karna Kadur / Nikhil Pai (Arka Motorsports, Bengaluru) (01hr, 00: 06.2secs); 2. Aditya Thakur / Virender Kashyap (both Himachal Pradesh) (01:01:42.2); 3. Dean Mascarenhas (Mangaluru) / Gagan Karumbaiah (Virajpet) (01:02:03.3).
INRC-2: 1. Mascarenhas / Karumbaiah (01:02:03.3); 2. Sahil Khanna (Gurugram) / Harish KN (Bengaluru) (01:02:16.0); 3. Aroor Vikram Rao / AG Somayya (Mangaluru) (01:03.03.1).
INRC-3: 1. Thakur / Kashyap (01:01:42.2); 2. Maninder Singh Prince (Delhi) / Vinay Padmashali (Bengaluru) (01:02:18.0); 3. Byram Godrej (Pune) / Varun (Bengaluru) (01:02.58.1).
INRC-4: 1. Vaibhav Marathe (Goa) / Dinesh S (Shivamogga) (01:07:22.7); 2. Mujeeb Rehman (Kasargod) / Ravindra Kumar (Bengaluru) (01:07:24.8); 3.Shivani Parmar / Dr Vani Parmar (both Mumbai) (01:08:35.4).
Junior INRC: 1. Pragati B / Trisha Jagannath (both Bengaluru) (01:04:03.6); 2. Raghuram Saminathan (Coimbatore) / Bharath Sargur (Bengaluru) (01:05.52.3) 3. Shivani Pruthvi (Davangere) / Deeksha Balakrishna (Bengaluru) (01:14:16.2).
FMSCI Gypsy Challenge: 1. Rupender Sheoran (Gurugram) / Mohit Malik (Faridabad) (01:05:12.8); 2. Sanjay Agarwal / Smitha Prasad (both Bengaluru) (01:06:26.0); 3. Mettuchetty Venkatapathy / S Santosh Kumar (both Coimbatore) (01:08:38.2).