Chennai: The all-new Champions Yacht Club-FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship 2019 got off to an explosive start here on Friday, with a record number of cars led by the country’s celebrated driver Gaurav Gill squaring up for an dramatic face off.
It’s a new beginning for three-time APRC and six-time INRC champion Gill too as he made the shift from MRF to JK Tyre in the hope of conquering new frontiers. The Mahindra Adventure driver, with Musa Sherif by his side, will be competing in a new car, the XUV300, adding a new dimension to the competition.
“I am looking forward to this season as I will not only be in a new car but also on new tyres,” Gill said, at the press conference, a few hours before the opening stage. “I have tested the car and it’s the best in the class. I am sure it’s going to suit my style of driving,” he added.
As many as 51 top rallyists from across the country, fielded by five major teams, including 19 by Team Champions, and many privateers, took off in front of a big crowd to set the tone for an exciting season.
The clashes began with a first-of-its-kind Super Special Stage at the MMRT, giving spectators a rare glimpse of all the action from close proximity.
The South India Rally, Round 1 of the INRC powered by MRF, will see the teams fight it out over a total distance of 298.70 kms, with as many as 117.33 kms earmarked for 11 special stages on gravel and dirt tracks. After the SSS on Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 will see five stages each, providing the drivers as well as the spectators ample fun.
“This is a perfect start to the championship,” promoter Vamsi Merla said. “We have already had the most number of entries and the biggest crowd at an INRC, making it that much more thrilling for all of us,” he added.
Like always, Team Mahindra will have a second car in fray too, with former racing and rallying champion Amittrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik) making it a formidable duo for them in the INRC 1 category. They will, however face stiff competition from another INRC champion Karna Kadur (Nikhil V Pai) of Arka Motorsports, who was brimming with confidence.
The INRC 2 category also looked highly competitive, with Team Champions’ Dean Mascarenhas (Shruptha Padivel) and Race Concept’s Younus Ilyas (Harish Gowda) pitted against each other. Both are supported by JK, making it that much more interesting.
INRC 3 has as many as 22 contenders, with Arjun Rao, Chetan Shivram and Daraius N Shroff among the favourites. Two ladies will also be seen in action, Shivani Pruthvi and Garima Avtar (INRC 4) as they aim to prove their mettle. A total of eight drivers will also feature in the junior INRC category.