Kottayam: Ace rally driver Gaurav Gill was at his imperious best here on Saturday, stealing Day 1’s honours with 6 Super Stage wins as the Champions Yacht Club FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship headed towards an explosive finish.
The JK Tyre driver, with Musa Sherif as co-driver, who was trailing in the seventh position at the start of the round could well break into the podium if he manages to excel on the final day of the championship too. He had just 29 points after the first four rounds but could end up adding 39 points more if he remains unbeaten on Sunday as well, catapulting him on the leader-board.
Another JK Tyre driver, Younus Ilyas (Harish Gowda) and Dr. Bikku Babu (Milen George) had spectacular outings too, with the former even winnings two stages. The duo shared the second and third positions in all the other six Popular Rally stages, providing thrilling fare to the spectators.
Despite his fightback, Gill would not be able to surpass the current overall leader, MRF’s Chetan Shivram. Bengaluru’s Chetan (with Dilip Sharan), who was leading INRC 3 as well, endured a massive crash in the day’s first stage itself and failed to finish even one stage. His 75 points, though, should see him home safely, even if he is unable to make the starting line-up on Sunday.
INRC 3’s Fabid Ahmer supported by MRF (Sanath G) with 51 points and INRC 2’s Dean Mascarenhas (Shruptha Padival) with 47 also remained in the fray for podium finishes in the overall category.
The INRC 2 seemed poised for the most thrilling ending as category leaders Dean Mascarenhas and Dr. Bikku Babu, both with 72 points, put up brave performances on Saturday. Dr Bikku took the first place in seven stages to steal a march over Dean, who chased him furiously.
The winner of the two on Sunday could hope to emerge as the king.
Fabid Ahmer took advantage of Chetan Shivram’s misfortune to give himself a good chance of claiming the INRC 3 title. Starting with 75 points, just 9 behind the leader, he would need to drive with the same care and hope that Chetan doesn’t start on Sunday to pull off a surprise victory.
1) Gaurav Gill/ Musa Sherif – 1:02:49.8 hour; 2) Younus Ilyas/ Harish Gowda – 1:03:44.8 hour; 3) Dr. Bikku Babu/Milen George – 1:05:37.9
1) Dr. Bikku Babu/Milen George – 1:05:37.9; 2) Dean Mascarenhas/Shrupta Padivel – 1:07:15.9 hour; 3) Suhem Kabeer/ Jeeva Rathinam – 1:08:00.4 hour
1) Aditya Thakur/Virender Kashyap – 1:10:11.8 hour; 2) Fabid Ahmer/Sanath G – 1:10:33.7 hour; 3) Jacob KS/ PVS Murthy – 1:10:38.4 hour
1) Suraj Thomas/ Shob George – 1:10:40.3 hour; 2) Shirole Prakhyat H / Bharath SM – 1:10:44.6 hour; 3) Vaibhav Marate/Arjun SSB – 1:12:45.3 hour