Popular Rally: Gaurav Gill wins 2018 finale in Kochi to retain INRC crown
Despite the hiccups in the last few rounds, Mahindra Adventure's Gaurav Gill anf co-driver Musa Sherif were on-song in the final round of the 2018 Indian National Rally Championship in Kochi as the New Delhi driver won the Popular Rally to defend his title.
Gill took it cautiously in the opening two stages but won SS3 to take the lead in overall standings. It was no looking back then as he won all of the stages barring SS8, SS11 and SS12 in his Mahindra XUV500 to win the rally at ease in 1hr37m47.0s.
He won in INRC1 category as well with INRC2 winner Younus Ilyas with co-driver Harish KN in second - only 48.20s apart - in the Mitsubishi Cedia after a consistent performance in the rally which included a win in the opening stage.
Coffee Day Rally winner Karna Kadur with co-driver Nikhil Vittal Pai was third overall and second in INRC2 in his Volkswagen Polo after winning SS11 with guest driver Sirish Chandran with co-driver A A Ragnekar in fourth.
Chandran drove a Volkswagen Polo and finished second in INRC1 category after winning SS8 and SS12. Set-up issues meant Amittrajit Ghosh with co-driver Ashwin Naik couldn't challenge for overall podium as he rounded out the Top 5.
The Mahindra Adventure driver though salvaged a podium finish in INRC1 category, while Phalguna Urs with co-driver Srikanth likewise rounded out the INRC2 podium finishing sixth overall in his Volkswagen Polo.
Another Volkswagen Polo entrant in INRC2 was seventh placed Rahul Kanthraj with co-driver Vivek Y Bhatt while INRC3 class winner Dean Mascarnehas with co-driver Shruptha Padival could only manage eighth in overall rankings.
The Top 10 then was completed by the two INRC2 runners Bopaiah with co-driver Gagan Karumbaiah and Jacob KJ with co-driver PVS Murthy in a pair of Volkswagen Polos while SS2 winner Dr Bikku Babu was only 13th.
"It was a difficult year for us, especially towards the end due to mechanical issues which were beyond our control," said six-time INRC winner Gill. “Kochi was the most difficult, with narrow roads which were fast and had broken tarmac too. We had to push extra hard to stay ahead of the others."