Coimbatore, Aug 4 (IANS) Five-time winner Gaurav Gill cruised into a comfortable lead after Day 1 in the Rally of Coimbatore, Round 2 of the MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship here on Saturday.
The Team Mahindra Adventure star, along with his co-driver Musa Sherif, won both the Special Stages of the day in his inimitably aggressive style.
He needed just 37:21.2 (18:48.3 and 18:32.9) to run through the two stages to set himself up for another victory.
His teammate, Amittrajit Ghosh, was snapping on his heels though, taking only 37:42.8 to finish the day on a high. Amit, who has recently won the European Rally Championship round in Greece (ERC 3 class), seemed a lot more confident as he tackled the dust with great speed and control in his XUV 500.
“I feel very good about my driving at the moment,” Amit said after his run. “I am handling the car a lot more smoothly and am hopeful of continuing in the same vein tomorrow,” he added. He is barely 21.6 seconds behind the leader, putting himself in a good position to go for the kill on Day 2.
The final four stages of the rally will be held on Sunday in Ketanur, about 70 kilometres away from Coimbatore.
“It was one of the longest stages that I have seen, with a lot of flat grounds with a corrupt stuff but we came through nicely,” Gill said, looking at ease. “Tomorrow we will get into proper rough pits and hope to continue in the same vein,” he added.
Former INRC champion Karna Kadur (with Nikhil V Pai) was trailing in the third place, after taking 38:18.5 for his two stages. That was, however, good enough for the Arka Motorsports’ spearhead to hold on to his INRC 2 advantage, with Bopiah KM and Phalghuna Urs over 30 seconds behind him.
Aroor Vikram Rao (with Somayya AG; Falkon Motorsports) continued to lead the INRC 3 category with a timing of 38:41.8. Defending champion Dean Mascarenhas, however, suffered a setback as he failed to finish the second stage due to a mechanical failure.
He was replaced by Suhem Kabeer in the second position on the leaderboard as Fabid Ahmer (third after Round 1) too slipped to the fourth place. Chetan Shivram was on the third place.