Bengaluru, Nov 22: Team Mahindra Adventure's Gaurav Gill and co-driver Musa Sherif, in a Mahindra XUV 500, have assured themselves of the 2014 Indian Rally Championship overall title after the first leg of the IMG 40th K-1000 Rally, presented by Mahindra Adventure, near Tumakuru on Saturday.
Local star Arjun Rao Aroor-Satish Rajagopal, who are second in the overall standings, had a bad day and retired after barely starting the first stage of the day. Their rally-specific Volkswagen Polo R2 suffered an engine failure.
Gill-Sherif have 145 points, while Aroor-Rajagopal have 78 and Sidhu-Murthy 62 with one round remaining at Chikkamagaluru next month. This will be Gill-Sherif's fourth National title, despite them trailing team-mates Sunny Sidhu-PV Srinivasa Murthy by two seconds after Saturday's leg one.
Sidhu-Murthy's total time after leg one was one hour, five minutes, 12.2 seconds, while Gill-Sherif were 01:05:14.4. Their teammates Amittrajit Ghosh-Ashwin Naik were third Overall with a time of 01:06:42.0.
"It was not a great day," said Gill. "We had a comfortable lead but there were electrical problems with the cooling fan and the car began to overheat. Due to this, we had to nurse the car but managed to stay in second place. Hopefully, we will be able to get the lead on Sunday."
A disappointed Aroor said: "We were barely 300 metres into the first stage of the day when the engine packed up. It is going to be very difficult to get the car back in action tomorrow. We will have to try our best in the last round in Chikkamagaluru next month."
In the IRC 2000 class, Karna Kadur-BS Sujith Kumar, in a Mitsubishi Cedia, led after leg one with a time of 01:07:26.4, while championship leaders Rahul Kanthraj-Vivek Bhatt were 01:08:19.0.
The IRC 1600cc class saw Phalguna Urs-Anoop Kumar, in a Volkswagen Polo, take the first leg lead with a time of 01:06:50.5, while Hrishikesh Thackersey-Ninad Mirajgaonkar were second with 01:08:48.8.
In the FMSCI 1600 class, Adith KC-Harish KN are in the lead with a time of 01:09:18.9 in their Honda City VTec.
In all, 10 out of the 41 cars retired on Saturday.
In the Super Special Stage, held at the Bangalore International Exhibition grounds under floodlights on Friday, Abhilash PG-Sanjay Agarwal were the fastest (one minute, 33.2 seconds) in a Mitsubishi Evo XI. Gill-Sherif were second fastest with 01:34.5, while Sidhu-Murthy were third with a 01:35.9.
Results (leg one, provisional and unaudited)
IRC: 1. Sunny Sidhu/PV Srinivas Murthy (Team Mahindra Adventure, Mahindra XUV500, 01:05:12.2); 2. Gaurav Gill/Musa Sherif (Team Mahindra Adventure, Mahindra XUV500, 01:05:14.4); 3. Amittrajit Ghosh/Ashwin Naik (Team Mahindra Adventure, Mahindra XUV500, 01:06:42.0).
IRC 2,000: 1. Karna Kadur/BS Sujith Kumar (Mitsubishi Cedia, 01:07:26.4); 2. Rahul Kanthraj/Vivek Bhatt (Mitsubishi Cedia, 01:08:19.0); 3. Byram Godrej/Somayya AG (VW Polo, 01:09:06.8).
IRC 1,600: 1. Phalguna Urs-Anoop Kumar (VW Polo, 01:06:50.5); 2. Hrishikesh Thackersey-Ninad Mirajgaonkar (VW Polo, 01:08:48.8); 3. Vikram Devadasen-Chandramouli (VW Polo, 01:10:13.7).
FMSCI 1,600: 1. Adith KC-Harish KN (Honda City Vtec, 01:09:18.9); 2. Aniruddha Rangnekar-Nitin Jacob (Maruti Baleno, 01:15:15.20); 3. Parag C Dhiwar-Aditya R Dhiwar (Maruti Baleno, 01:15:35.0).