- Stage set for MRF 45th South India Rally
- 45 competitors to take the start
Chennai, April 22: The 45 competitors who will take the start here tomorrow in the the MRF 45th South India Rally, the first round of the Blue Band Sports fmsci Indian National Rally Championship 2022, are all primed for action as the new season gets underway with focus yet again on the big guns.
After a reconnaissance of the Stages today, reigning National champion from Himachal, Aditya Thakur (co-driver Virender Kashyap) of Chettinad Sporting said having moved up to INRC-2 category for the 2022 season, he is determined even more than before to perform better.
At the pre-event press conference here today, Thakur, who won the maiden Overall title besides topping the INRC-3 category last month, said: “I was gunning for my INRC-3 class title last season, but I tasted Overall success. It makes you yearn for more. However, my focus this season will be on winning the INRC-2 category title and I will leave no stone unturned when an opportunity presents. The car is reliable and well-tuned by Chettinad Sporting, and we will be pushing right from Day 1.”
Seven times National champion and Arjuna Awardee, Delhi-based Gaurav Gill (Musa Sherif, Kasargod) is keen to make amends for his up-and-down 2021 season. “I am happy to be back as rallying is what I love to do. My aim is to get a proper result as we had a bad year (2021 season) due to mechanical failures. We are a manufacturer’s team and I am a professional driver, so that kind of a result is not accepted. We will be pushing to go for the title again. We have made some changes to the car (Mahindra XUV 300) and we have the tyres to go all out and I am looking forward to a good run tomorrow.”
Another top contender, Bengaluru’s Karna Kadur (Nikhil Pai) of Arka Motorsports, who won his maiden international title by winning the Asia Cup round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship at the same venue last month, too fancied his chances.
“The car is good and we are looking to continue the winning run. We did not have much time to test the car, but my MRF tyres proved reliable and the terrain is more or less the same with slight changes in the route as compared to last month. We are all set for a perfect start to the season,” said Kadur.
Meanwhile, Kerala’s Fabid Ahmer (Sanath G), who missed the National crown last season by a whisker, has set his sights again on the top prize. “It was painful to lose the championship again by a narrow margin, but I took home a lot of learnings from the last season. Looking at the bright side, I have won the INRC-2 National championship and the target is to defend it. I have been consistent, but faced some technical issues. New season, new targets, so we are confident and looking forward to 2022 season,” said Ahmer.
Another Bengalurean, Pragathi Gowda (Trisha Alonkar), who recently represented India in the Formula Woman McLaren GT selections struck a confident pose saying she hoped to start the new season well in the INRC-3 category.
The total distance of the Rally, which is being held in Sriperumbudur, is about 300 Kms, including about 123 Kms of competitive section. The Stages will be run on Saturday and Sunday.