Harpal Singh Bedi
On a day full of surprises, INRC 3’s Chetan Shivram of Akshara Racing jumped into the early lead in the Rally of Coimbatore, Round 2 of the Champions Yacht Club FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship, here on Saturday.
Chetan and his brother co-driver Dilip Sharan were most comfortable in the treacherous terrain, marked by slushy conditions and loose sand, posting a total time of 1:05:32.900 hours to complete Day 1’s five stages to be ahead of a record field.
Suhem Kabeer (with Jeeva Rathnam) and Younus Ilyas (Harish Gowda) were hot on the tail of the leader, taking the second and third positions by the end of the day. The two JK Tyre drivers, both INRC 2 contenders, were in their elements, with Suhem showing consistency in all the stages while Younus won the last two stages to climb into the top three.
Hot favourite Mahindra Adventure’s Gaurav Gill (Musa Sherif) began on a positive note, scoring the fastest times in the first three stages before he picked up a puncture and had to eventually pull out with a malfunction.
Even Karna Kadur (Arka) and comeback boy Vikram Mathias (Race Concepts) had a rough day, falling out of contention after the third stage. Round 1 winner Dean Mascarenhas managed to finish but a very poor second stage that got his car stuck in slush hurt him badly, sliding him to the 20th position.
“After continuous rainfall last night, it suddenly became sunny in the morning leading to the surface becoming really hard. There were stones all over the stages which made it difficult. I am obviously not happy with my current scenario but would say that I would take it as a learning experience and I will bounce back strong,” Gaurav said after the end of day one.
Interestingly, none of the INRC entries managed to finish on the first day.
Right With Suhem and Younus in the INRC 2 category was Ritesh Guttedar (& Lokaranjan H.J) of Team Champions. He is well placed in the overall category too, finishing fourth.