44th South India Rally – March 25-27

Aditya Thakur, who leads Overall and INRC-3 categories (File photo)
  • FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship back in India
  • MMSC geared up for Asia Cup, INRC
  • Close battles on cards for National Championship titles

Chennai, March 23: In what promises to be an action-packed weekend, the 44th South India Rally, which doubles up as a round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship 2022, and the final round of The FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship 2021 with MRF Tyres as the Associate Sponsor, will be held in Sriperumbudur, about 40 Kms from here, on March 25-27. 

Organised by the Madras Motor Sports Club, celebrating its 70th anniversary, the events will be anchored to the iconic MMRT circuit which will be the venue for start and finish of the event besides the Spectator Special Stage (tarmac) and the 12.9 Kms long Special Stage (dirt) bordering the race track. Another Special Stage (17.78 Kms), is located about 23 Kms from the MMRT. Both Stages will be run four times – twice in forward direction (Saturday) and twice in reverse direction (Sunday) while the Spectator Special Stage once on each day. On Friday, March 25, the competitors will do a reconnaissance of the Stages.

Gaurav Gill, the hot favourite (file photo)

While four entries have been received for the APRC (Asia Cup) round, which returns to India after a four-year gap, the INRC has attracted 44. Three times APRC champion Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif), Karna Kadur (Nikhil Pai) of Arka Motorsports, Amittrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik) and Younus Ilyas (Anirudha Ranganekar) of Race Concepts will take part in the APRC and also headline the INRC entry list.

In an initiative to encourage Indian participation in the APRC event, MMSC have offered subsidies in various forms – FIA-approved fuel tank casing; entry fee for the APRC segment, Rs 70,000/- to be returned as start money; Trophies for top three finishers irrespective of the class entered and placing in the INRC.

APRC Working Group chief and Chairman of South India Rally, Vicky Chandhok said: “The South India Rally is not just another rally but a part of the Indian Rallying Heritage. Running the 44th edition of the event speaks volumes of the standards of National rallying. We have worked hard to offer an event of value to all the stakeholders, and, on behalf of the organisers, the Madras Motor Sports Club, it gives me great pleasure in welcoming the rallying fraternity to the event.

Deepak Chandra, leader in INRC-4 category (file photo)

“Further, the MMSC in its constant support to motorsport, has taken a decision for the FIA APRC South India Rally to encourage competitors and support them, by way of subsidies, in entering an International Event on home soil and the chance to earn a FIA trophy for their shelves.”

The FMSCI president Akbar Ebrahim said: “It is a matter of pride and privilege that India is hosting a round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship after a gap of several years, and concurrently with the third and final round of the FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship 2021 with MRF Tyres as the Associate Sponsor. All of us have been through some challenging times due to the pandemic and I am happy that the 2021 INRC got underway, though it spilled over into 2022. Once again, on behalf of the FMSCI, I thank our Associate Sponsor MRF Tyres, the competitors, the organizing clubs, officials and the Media for their support. To reiterate, we hope to put together a bigger INRC, with more rounds, in the season ahead.”

The competition in The FMSC-promoted INRC segment is expected to be fierce since titles in all categories are up for grabs. Aditya Singh Thakur (Virender Kashyap) of Chettinad Sporting leads the Overall standings with 54 points, just one ahead of Fabid Ahmer (Sanath G). Considering that a maximum of 40 points are on offer and the top five competitors, including seven times National champion Gill, are separated by just 16 points, the Overall championship is wide open.

Fabid Ahmer, who heads INRC-2 category (file photo)

The top two in other categories after two rounds are:

INRC-2: Fabid Ahmer (76) and Sahil Khanna (61); INRC-3: Aditya Singh Thakur (78) and Kuber Sharma (56); INRC-4: Deepak Chandra (61) and Mujeeb Rehman (44); Junior INRC: Raghunath Saminathan (78) and Shivani Pruthvi (60); FMSCI Gypsy Cup: Rupender Sheoran (71) and Venkatapathy MR (55).

Due to the unpredictability of the sport, as could be gauged from the results of the previous two rounds – the Rally of Coimbatore and the Karnataka-1000 – success is not guaranteed. The uncertainty factor, thus, makes this weekend’s action a pot-boiler.

About the FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship 2021

The Indian National Rally Championship 2021, promoted by The Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India with MRF Tyres as the Associate Sponsor, comprises three rounds – Rally of Coimbatore (Feb 25-27), Karnataka-1000 (March 11-13) and the South India Rally (Chennai, March 25-27). The grid is segregated into five categories based on various specifications – the INRC, INRC-2, INRC-3, INRC-4 and Junior INRC (26 years and below, and without a win). Competitors are eligible for Overall classification and also separately in their respective categories. The top 15 finishers are eligible for points ranging from 30 to 1. The five quickest on each of the two days (Leg-1 and Leg-2) and in each category receive bonus points (5 to 1) in the respective Legs provided they complete the Rally. The maximum points that can be won in each round is 40. A stand-alone sixth category, the FMSCI Gypsy Challenge, restricted to Maruti Gypsy, and not eligible for championship points or classification, completes the grid.

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