Karna Kadur wins Asia Cup round, South India Rally, Aditya Thakur emerges National champion

Harpal Singh Bedi

Chennai: Bengaluru pair of Karna Kadur and co-driver Nikhil Pai (Arka Motorsports) kept their nerves to win the 44th South India Rally, here on Sunday.

Even as Kadur and Pai celebrated their Asia Cup (India leg) victory on their APRC debut, Himachal’s Aditya Thakur and co-driver Virender Kashyap (Chettinad Sporting) clinched their maiden National championship title (Overall), though provisionally, and subject to the outcome of an appeal pending before the Indian Motor Sports Appeal Cour

Kadur also topped the South India Rally, organised by the Madras Motor Sports Club, to claim the Overall honours ahead of Dean Mascarenhas (Gagan Karumbaiah) and Thakur. The third-place finish was sufficient for Thakur to emerge National champion.

Kadur survived another scare today when the door of the luggage boot sprung open in the day’s second Stage, but he came through relatively unscathed for his maiden success in an international event.

Two other Asia Cup contenders, Amittrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik) and Younus Ilyas (Sanath G) packed up due to mechanical failures, when running second and third, respectively.

Meanwhile, three times APRC champion Gaurav Gill (Musa Sherif), who had retired on Saturday with a mechanical failure but restarted today, eventually finished second behind Kadur.

Reflecting on his victory, Kadur said: “This is my first win since 2018 and I am very happy to break a jinx. Also, this is my first win in Chennai and the APRC victory also, and I cannot ask for anything better. As always, there is last-minute drama today with lower-arm bush popping out, but we were lucky to finish. We have learnt a lot in the last two rallies (both DNFs).

“Till 2018, we won all the sub-categories we entered. And only in 2019 we started getting the budgets and the backing to go Overall. From there, we were developing the car, thanks to Leela uncle (N Leelakrishnan) and the whole team at Arka. Thanks also to the Volkswagen Motorsport team who have been continuously supporting me. The MRF Tyres certainly gave us the edge as the difference was only in seconds after the first stage, but it is the Tyres that allowed us to push the limits.”

“Right now I can’t express how happy I am today. It is a dream come true. I never expected to become a National champion in such a short time after making my INRC debut in 2018.  A big thanks to my co-driver Virender who is always spot-on.” Thakur said

“I want to thank MRF Tyres and Volkswagen Motorsport for all the support. It is a dream come true that I am driving for such a wonderful rally car. I am indebted to my team Chettinad Sporting, Team PPTS and Lionnoil, that keeps my car cool every time I go out.”

Gill was disappointed with the result. “It was the same in Coimbatore where we had a DNF (Did Not Finish) and in K-1000 that we won. Here too we were the quickest, but a mechanical issue cut short our rally yesterday. However, on restart, we had a good run today. Overall, I am quite happy with our performance,” said Gill, who plans to compete in APRC’s Japan and Australia legs this season.


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