Gaurav Gill of Team MRF gave further notice of his superior driving skills when he claimed his second overall Indian National Rally Championship title, finishing the nine special stages of the Coffee Day Championship Rally a whopping 1 minute 52 seconds, ahead of teammate Arjun Balu in Chikmagalur, on Sunday.
The 23-year-old from Delhi along with co-driver Moosa Sherif, who held an overnight lead of 40 seconds over Lohit Urs and Jaidas Menon added another six seconds in the day's opening stage before Urs toppled in the next stage and was out of reckoning for the top slot.
Balu and co-driver Kumaraswamy were never able to push Gill, who emerged a comfortable winner, his second first place finish in the MAI's INRC in as many starts. Gill finished in 1: 41.02, with Balu coming home in 1:42.53.
Thirty one cars started on the second day, of which 26 came into parc ferme at Associated Bean Company Ltd. While four cars had to pull out in the day's second stage due to technical problems, Deepak Paul Chinappa crashed on the return journey of the transport stage, his car toppling after banging into a boulder. The car was wrecked, but Chinappa and co-driver Sriakarunya escaped without injury.
Amitrajit Ghosh/Sourabh Choudhary finished on top in the 1400cc category, while the Rally Star Cup was won by Arvind J/S M Bharath. The Gypsy Cup saw a comfortable winner in Suresh Rana.
Gill has virtually rendered the INRC into a one-horse race, such has been his domination in the opening two rounds, notwithstanding his impressive run last year. Completely at ease in the 2000cc Cedia he seems to be improving with every rally, in stark contrast to his teammates, struggling to come to terms with the more powerful cars and finishing nowhere near Gill's timings.
"I lost the brakes of the car in the day's second stage and flipped over after hitting a tree stump. I had to then call some spectators to right the car and lost precious time," said a disappointed Urs. Any hopes he had in finishing among the top five overall were then dashed when he had a flat tyre in the repeat of the same stage and had to use his spare, which cost him another 20 minutes. Urs finished way back down the list in 2: 07.30.
Following are the provisional results:
Overall: Gaurav Gill/Moosa Sherif (Team MRF, 2000cc Cedia) 1:41.02; Arjun Balu/Kumar Ramaswamy (Team MRF, 2000cc Cedia) 1: 42.53; Arjunrao Aroor/Satish Kumar (Team MRF, 1600cc Baleno) 1:46.33; Philippos Mathai/Ashwin Naik (Team MRF, 1600cc Baleno) 1:49.09; B. S Pruthvi/Sunil Shetty (Baleno) 1:50.33.
1600cc: Arjunrao Aroor/Satish Kumar (Team MRF, 1600cc Baleno) 1:46.33; Philippos Mathai/Ashwin Naik (Team MRF, 1600cc Baleno) 1: 49.09; B. S Pruthvi/Sunil Shetty (Baleno) 1:50.33.
1400cc: Amitrajit Ghosh/Sourabh Chaudhary (Esteem) 1:53.44; S Sujay/M Chandrasekhar (Esteem) 2: 01.07; G Raju Prasanth/Samuel Sangeeth (Esteem) 2:10.11.
Rally Star Cup: Arvind J/S M Bharath (Esteem) 1:54.23; Mazdayar Vatcha/Kaushik Sinde (Esteem) 1: 54.27; Elias Paarel/Madhu K C 1:55.01.
Gypsy Cup (3 stages): Suresh Rana/Harpreet Bawa 1:57.33; Kamaljit Virdi/Manoj Kumar 2:17.05.