South India Rally set for stirring action

Gaurav Gill
  • South India Rally set for stirring action
  • Competitors praise Special Stages

Chennai, March 25: Fast and flowing was how a cross-section of competitors described the Special Stages after a recce run today on the eve of the 44th South India Rally, which is also a round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (Asia Cup) and the concluding round of the FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship with MRF Tyres as the Associate Sponsor.

The competition in the Rally, organised by the Madras Motor Sports Club celebrating its 70th anniversary, begins tomorrow (Saturday) and concludes on Sunday afternoon.

Aditya Thakur

While three times APRC champion Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) headlines the Asia Cup as the top contender, the entry list that includes APRC debutants Amittrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik), Younus Ilyas (Aniruddha Ranganekar) and Karna Kadur (Nikhil Pai), the attention would also be on Himachal’s Aditya Thakur (Virender Kashyap) who heads the Overall standings in the INRC, following a win in the first round in Coimbatore last month.

“The stages are fast and technical. We have some catching up to do after the DNF (Did Not Finish) in Round 1. Now our focus is to make up and gain maximum points,” said the Delhi-based 7-time INRC champion and Arjuna Awardee, who logged a win in the K-1000 Rally earlier this month to remain in contention for the title. He trails Thakur by 15 points.

Thakur said: “I am looking forward to the South India Rally. Though my focus is to win in my category (INRC-3), I will give my best shot to win the Overall title as this is the best chance to go for it. As for the Stages, they are very fast and flowing.”

Likewise, Palakkad’s Fabid Ahmer (Sanath G), currently placed second in the Overall standings a point behind Thakur, but leading in the INRC-2 category, felt that the Special Stages would be forgiving on the cars, but hoped to turn the deficit into a victory, something he had come close to in 2019 before a time penalty cost him the Overall title.

“Now I have a better car with some upgrades and the Stages here are to my liking. I missed the championship by a whisker in 2019, but this time, I am in the top-3 Overall, and want to go for the title. I believe in clean and consistent driving which is the best way to get points,” said Ahmer.

Shivani Parmar

Mumbai’s Shivani Parmar (Vani Parmar), in her debut INRC season, heaped praise on the Special Stages and said she looked forward to a strong performance. “This is my first INRC season and it has been an enjoyable experience. So, I look forward to the South India Rally and hope I can improve on my performances in Coimbatore and the Karnataka-1000 rounds,” said Shivani who is placed third in the INRC-3 category where Bengaluru’s Deepak Chandra (Raghuram CG) is leading.

Karna Kadur said: “I am happy to make debut in the APRC and being the home rally, it is a perfect place to step up and gain experience.”

Ghosh, who has driven in European Rally Championship, said: “I have done ERC, and APRC will be a good to get back to bigger things. The Stages are faster than in 2019 when we last took part here.”

Later, Gill announced that he would be competing in three rounds of APRC this season. “I am back into APRC and have registered for three rounds. I will take part in the Japan round for preparation and then the final round in Australia,” said the 40-year old Gill.

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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