Gaurav Gill extends lead, set to claim Rally of Maharashtra title

Nashik (Maharashtra), June 14: Reigning national champion Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) stamped his authority on the Mahindra Adventure Rally of Maharashtra, the second round of the FMSCI Indian Rally Championship, as he all but sealed the Overall title here on Saturday (June 13) with just 4.06 Kms of the Spectator Special Stage to be run on today.

Day 1 report

Although enjoying an overnight advantage of over 3 minutes, 33-year old Delhi-based Gill, the 2013 champion, representing Team Mahindra Adventure, continued his relentless onslaught to extend his lead to 4 minutes, two seconds, over team-mate Amittrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik).

Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) negotiating a turn during the Spectator Special Stage on Saturday

Gill came up with another near-flawless drive in the Mahindra XUV 500 as he won all the three Special Stages run on Saturday to move closer to retaining his Rally of Maharashtra title.

Ghosh, also piloting the XUV 500, was in second place ahead of Arjun Rao (Satish Naik) in a Volkswagen Polo (R2) who thrilled the crowd by posting tied fastest timing in the first of the three loops of the Spectator Special Stage along with Lohitt Urs (Srikant Gowda) who was in fourth Overall position.

The event concludes on Sunday when two more rounds of the Spectator Special Stage will be run and it is more than likely that the crews will aim to hold their positions to the finish.

'Found something new'

Gill said: "Everything went off well for us today. In fact, I think I was faster than yesterday. I also did a bit of R and D on the vehicle, played around with the set-up trying to find more time. We found something new, but obviously I can't talk about it!"

Ghosh, the 2013 National champion from Kolkata, who had to overcome mechanical problems on Friday, said: "We had no problems today after sorting out the brakes and the gearbox. We had some 25-second lead over Sunny (Sidhu) and I pushed just enough to keep that advantage."

Mangaluru-based Arjun Rao too was quite satisfied that he could move up a place from fourth to third, edging past Mahindra Adventure's Sunny Sidhu (PVS Murthy).

"I happy that we had no problems today, except for the fag end of the third Stage when it was drizzling and the surface was a bit slippery. But otherwise, everything went fine for us."

'I did not drive very hard'

Bengaluru's Rahul Kanthraj (Vivek Bhatt) who encountered little or no opposition, consolidated his overnight lead in the IRC 2000cc class, but was fortunate to survive a head-on crash with a mini-van that slid into his Mitsubishi Cedia in the slushy transport section after the day's final Special Stage.

Kantraj said: "I did not drive very hard since there was nobody to push us. But I think we clocked the same timing as yesterday. We had a close call in the transport run to the Service Park when a mini-van slid into us. Luckily, there was not much damage to our car."

Mangaluru's Dean Mascarenhas (Sudipta Padiwal) nursed his sizeable overnight lead in the IRC 1600cc class despite crashing into the barrier during the Spectator Special Stage while Dhruva C (Jeeva Rathinam) continued to head the FMSCI 1600 Cup.

Classification (Partial, Leg-2, Unofficial)

IRC Overall: Gaurva Gill/Musa Sherif (Mahindra Adventure, Mahindra XUV 500) 1 (01 Hr, 28mins, 03secs); Amittrajit Ghosh/Ashwin Naik (Mahindra Adventure, Mahindra XUV 500) 2 (01:32:05); Arjun Rao Aroor/Satish Rajagopal (Volkswagen Polo R2) 3 (01:32:15).

IRC 2000cc: Rahul Kanthraj/Vivek Bhatt (Team Yokohama, Cedia) 1 (01:34:43); Hrishikesh Thackersey/Ninad Mirajgaonkar (VW Polo) 2 (01:38:18); Sumit Panjabi/Sagar M (Cedia) 3 (01:40:01).

IRC 1600cc: Dean Mascarenhas/Sudipta Padiwal (VW Polo) 1 (01:34:57); Dr Biku Babu/George Milen (VW Polo) 2 (01:38:40); Vikram Rao Aroor/AG Somayya (VW Polo) 3 (01:41:11).

FMSCI 1600 Cup: Dhruva C/Jeeva Rathinam (Honda City V-Tec) 1 (01:44:49); Ashwin Reddy Daram/Salman Shahid (Rally Cross, Honda City V-Tec) 2 (01:45:43); Adith KC/Harish KN (Kari Sports, Honda City V-Tec) 3 (01:46:10).

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