Durgapur (West Bengal), Sep 19 (IANS) Gaurav Gill of Team MRF turned more than a wheel while winning his first title in 13 months when he captured the Overall honours in the Rally de Kolkata, the third round of the Speed-Indian National Rally Championship here Saturday.
After Leg-2 and with just 1.2 kms of Spectator Special Stage to be run Sunday in Kolkata, Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) is assured of the title as he enjoyed a lead of over a minute against his closest rival, Amittrajit Ghosh of Red Rooster Racing.
“I am back on track,” declared the 28-year-old from Delhi after safely bringing home his Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia (N+) and admitted that he was hugely relieved at turning the tide after a string of non-finishes in not just the INRC, but also Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and the Production World Rally Championship (PWRC) in the past season.
His last success was in the Indonesian round of the 2008 APRC series. “I had my share of bad luck and on most occasions, my retirement has been mainly due to mechanical or electrical failures. So, the win here is a huge relief for me,” he said.
If Gill and Ghosh checked in with hardly a scratch on their Cedia cars, the day’s proceedings witnessed another bunch of crashes and retirements. Chiefly, Lohitt V. Urs in a Team MRF Cedia packed up when running third while a misplaced sign at the flying finish of one of the Special Stages led to a series of crashes.
Girijashankar Joshy (co-driver Srikant Gowda), who was running second in the 1600cc class, missed a corner at the flying finish and dropped out of contention. A few others too had scary moments at this point leading to justifiable complaints over time control marshals.
Joshy’s mishap virtually confirmed a victory for Sujay Suresh (co-driver Varun Satyanarayana) in the 1600cc class and overall third position behind Gill and Ghosh while elevating Rahul Kanthraj (co-driver Vivek Bhatt) to second place in the class.
In the 1400cc class, it was the Kerala tandem of Francis Kinatingal Jose and Manoj Mohan, representing Team DDL Sports, who took the honours with some sensible driving, though he was a tad fortunate to win as overnight leaders Vikram Devadasen (co-driver Nikhil Pai) retired due to an electrical problem.
Karna Kadur (co-driver Somonita Ghosh) topped in the Rally Star Cup class after surviving a close battle with overnight leader Phalguna Urs (co-driver Anoop Kumar) who went off the road in the day’s fourth Special Stage and lost some 15 seconds. Until then, the two fought tooth-and-nail, making and losing time on one another until Urs went off.
There were no such concerns for Patiala’s Khushwant Randhawa (co-driver Vinay Sekhar) who clinched the issue in the Gypsy Cup class with a commanding win over Bobby Jose (co-driver Bobby Varghese) with over three minutes separating the two crews.
The results (provisional and unaudited):
Gaurav Gill/Musa Sherif (Team MRF, Cedia N+) 1 (53mins, 01secs);
Amittrajit Ghosh/Ashwin Naik (Red Rooster Racing, Cedia N+) 2 (54:18)
Sujay Suresh/Varun Satyanarayana 3 (Maruti Baleno, 58:49).