Coimbatore – There were no surprises in store as overnight leaders National Champion Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) took the honours in the four-wheeler class while Nataraj Rajanna of TVS Racing emerged champion among bikes in the Ultimate category of the Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare Rally here Friday.
Gill just about limped home as he nursed a stricken Mahindra XUV 500 to the finish following a missing nut and bolt of the rear arm while riding on the overnight seven-minute lead to pip team-mate Lohit Urs (Chupong Chaiwan) by four minutes and 51 seconds.
“I was lucky to survive as the car could have stopped any moment. I am not sure how such a huge bolt could have dropped off as I don’t recall hitting anything. Hence, I did not take any risks as I had a cushion of seven minutes over Lohitt,” said a relieved Gill who all but crawled through the five special stages, four of which were on broken tarmac and some extremely rough patches.
For Urs, also in a Mahindra XUV 500, it was a disappointing finish as he had to drive the last two stages without power steering besides a leaking fuel line.
In overall third place was Anwar Khan (Mohammed Nadeem) in a Gypsy as held off a spirited charge by Bangalore ace Sanjay Agarwal (Anoop Kumar) who was handicapped by the huge penalty he incurred on the opening day with a blown engine.
In fact, Agarwal, also in a Gypsy fitted with a borrowed Esteem engine, was much quicker than Khan in all the stages, but had too much deficit to make up.
Nataraj, the overall winner in the 2012 Desert Storm Rally, rode his TVS Apache RTR 160 with some caution to deservingly take the top spot in the two-wheeler class.
“I suffered a puncture in the very first stage and lost about a minute, but I had a healthy overnight lead over Chetan Ganapathy. I did not push hard thereafter as I did not want to have another puncture as the terrain was really rough,” said the 2010 National champion.
Chetan Ganapathy finished second, trailing by over four minutes in conditions that severely tested the machines which had to negotiate boulder-strewn routes besides steep and slippery inclines.
Meanwhile, the Endurance class run on TSD format saw Pune’s Sanjay Takale (Mustafa) retaining their top position, with overnight joint leader and last year’s winner, Satish Gopalakrishnan (Savera D’Souza) from Bangalore slipping to third position.
Moving up to the second spot, just four seconds behind the leader was KP Karthick Maruthi (Sankar Anand) to set up a thrilling finish on Saturday when the competition finishes in Bangalore.
The results (provisional):
Ultimate – Four-wheelers: Gaurav Gill / Musa Sherif (Mahindra XUV 500) 1 (4hrs, 15mins, 49secs); Lohitt Urs (Chupong Chaiwan) 2 (04:20:40); Anwar Khan / Mohammed Nadeem (Gypsy) 3 (04:42:00).
Two-wheelers: Nataraj Rajanna (TVS Racing) 1 (04:24:06); Chetan Ganapathy 2 (04:28:37); Raja 3 (04:40:32).