Popular Rally: Gill dominates final round as Shivram secures 2019 title
India’s top rally driver Gaurav Gill was at his imperious best, stealing Day 1’s honours with 6 Super Stage wins as the Champions Yacht Club FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship headed towards an explosive finish.
The JK Tyre driver, with Musa Sherif as co-driver, who was trailing in the seventh position at the start of the round could well break into the podium if he manages to excel on the final day of the championship too. He had just 29 points after the first four rounds but could end up adding 39 points more if he remains unbeaten on Sunday as well, catapulting him on the leader-board.
Another JK Tyre driver, Younus Ilyas (Harish Gowda) and Dr. Bikku Babu (Milen George) had spectacular outings too, with the former even winnings two stages. The duo shared the second and third positions in all the other six Popular Rally stages, providing thrilling fare to the spectators.
Despite his fightback, Gill would not be able to surpass the current overall leader, MRF’s Chetan Shivram. Bengaluru’s Chetan (with Dilip Sharan), who was leading INRC 3 as well, endured a massive crash in the day’s first stage itself and failed to finish even one stage.
His 75 points, though, should see him home safely, even if he is unable to make the starting line-up on the final day. INRC 3’s Fabid Ahmer supported by MRF (Sanath G) with 51 points and INRC 2’s Dean Mascarenhas (Shruptha Padival) with 47 also remained in the fray for podium finishes in the overall category.
The INRC 2 seemed poised for the most thrilling ending as category leaders Dean Mascarenhas and Dr. Bikku Babu, both with 72 points, put up brave performances on Saturday. Dr Bikku took the first place in seven stages to steal a march over Dean, who chased him furiously.
The winner of the two on Sunday could hope to emerge as the king. Fabid Ahmer took advantage of Chetan Shivram’s misfortune to give himself a good chance of claiming the INRC 3 title. Starting with 75 points, just 9 behind the leader, he would need to drive with the same care and hope that Chetan doesn’t start on Sunday to pull off a surprise victory.
1) Gaurav Gill/ Musa Sherif - 1:02:49.8 hour; 2) Younus Ilyas/ Harish Gowda - 1:03:44.8 hour; 3) Dr. Bikku Babu/Milen George - 1:05:37.9
1) Dr. Bikku Babu/Milen George - 1:05:37.9; 2) Dean Mascarenhas/Shrupta Padivel - 1:07:15.9 hour; 3) Suhem Kabeer/ Jeeva Rathinam - 1:08:00.4 hour
1) Aditya Thakur/Virender Kashyap - 1:10:11.8 hour; 2) Fabid Ahmer/Sanath G - 1:10:33.7 hour; 3) Jacob KS/ PVS Murthy - 1:10:38.4 hour
1) Suraj Thomas/ Shob George - 1:10:40.3 hour; 2) Shirole Prakhyat H / Bharath SM - 1:10:44.6 hour; 3) Vaibhav Marate/Arjun SSB - 1:12:45.3 hour
India’s rally king Gaurav Gill underlined his supremacy in the Popular Rally, the final round of the Champions Yacht Club FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship, winning the title for an unprecedented fifth time on a pulsating day of action.
The Team Mahindra driver, supported by JK Tyre and with Musa Sherif as his co-driver, won SS9 and finished second in SS10 and SS11 on Day 2 to regain his aura over the weekend with some brilliant driving. Gill’s teammates, Dean Mascarenhas and Suhem Kabeer, too did well, taking the third and fourth positions in Popular Rally’s overall category.
Bengaluru’s Chetan Shivram, however, seems set to take the 2019 INRC champion, riding on his twin triumphs in the Rally of Coimbatore and the K1000 in Bengaluru. The MRF supported driver, who had suffered a massive crash in the opening stage on Saturday, returned to complete Day 2’s three stages to protect his lead.
Chetan of Team Akshara, along with Dilip Sharan, nursed his car smartly, taking the tenth position in SS9 but revved up to the fifth in the last two stages for a valiant show. A second crown, the INRC 3 category, however, may well have eluded him as Fabid Ahmer (Sanath G) pipped him to the post. Fabid finished second behind Aditya Thakur (Virender Kashyap) which was probably good enough to nudge off Chetan from the top.
Team Champions’ Dr Bikku Babu (Milen George), a local favourite, finished third in the overall category and first in his own INRC 2 for a highly rewarding Popular Rally. Tied with JK Tyre’s Dean Mascarenhas (Shruptha Padival) on 72 points at the start of the round, his win has surely fetched him the INRC 2 title for the season too.
In the INRC 4 category, Suraj George along with co-driver emerged supreme, while Vaibhav Marathe (Arjun SSB) and Rakshith Iyer/Chandrashekhar finished second and third.
Results (Round 5)
1) Gaurav Gill/Musa Sherif - 1:25:01.7 hour; 2) Dr. Bikku Babu/Milen George - 1:29:16.300 hour; 3) Dean Mascarenhas/Shrupta Padivel - 1:31:02.600 hour
1) Dr. Bikku Babu/Milen George - 1:29:16.300 hour ; 2) Dean Mascarenhas/Shrupta Padivel - 1:31:02.600 hour; 3) Suhem Kabeer/Jeeva Rathinam - 1:31:22.000 hour
1) Aditya Thakur/Virender Kashyap - 1:34:11.300 hour; 2) Fabid Ahmer/Sanath G - 1:34:38.900 hour; 3) Jacob K.J/Murthy PVS - 1:34:46.300 hour
1)Suraj Thomas/Shob George - 1:35:02.500 hour; 2) Vaibhav Marathe/ Arjun SSB - 1:37:55.000 hour; 3) Rakshith Iyer/Chandrashekhar - 1:38:51.400 hour
[Image courtesy: INRC India] [Note: The above is as per the press release with no edits made]