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Motorsport: Lohitt, Shrikant emerge Overall champs in Rally of Coimbatore

Lohitt Urs and co-driver Shrikant Gowda defended their lead to emerge champions in the Rally of Coimbatore, the third round of the FMSCI Indian Rally Championship.

Lohitt Urs (L)  won the Rally of Coimbatore today

Coimbatore, Aug 1 (IANS) Lohitt Urs and co-driver Shrikant Gowda, in a Mitsubishi Evo VIII, comfortably defended their overnight lead to emerge Overall champions in the Rally of Coimbatore, the third round of the FMSCI Indian Rally Championship that concluded here on Saturday.

Mysuru-based Urs did not need to push himself especially after his closest rival Arjun Rao Aroor (co-driver Satish Rajagopal), trailing by over a minute, failed to start Leg-2 on Saturday due to a mechanical failure in his Volkswagen Polo R2. Thus, Urs could afford to be in cruise mode as he barely turned a wheel wrong to cap a brilliant performance.

Also on the winning side were the overnight leaders in other categories, Bengaluru's Rahul Kantraj (co-driver Vivek Bhatt) in the IRC 2000 and Karna Kadur (Vivek Ponnusamy) in the IRC 1600, and Kerala's Adith KC (Harish KN) in the FMSCI 1600 Cup.

For Urs, who had finished fourth Overall in the previous round in Nashik, it was a victory to savour even granting that his arch-rival Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) of Mahindra Adventure team retired Friday, and Aroor did not start Leg-2 owing to a mechanical failure that was detected after he drove into the Service park before the commencement of the day's competitive sections.

Mahindra Adventure, though, had some satisfaction as they filled the other two podium spots as Sunny Sidhu (PVS Murthy) finished four minutes, 28.5 seconds behind Urs and Amittrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik) came in third, some 31.4 seconds further adrift.

The intense competition between Urs and reigning National champion Gill, who re-joined the rally under the Super Rally format, was very much in evidence as both bettered their Friday's timings.

Gill, the 2013 Asia Pacific champion made some 10 seconds on Urs in Saturday's 25 Kms-long first Stage, but the Mysuru star was quicker by nine seconds in the final Stage (12 Kms). The little battle between the two made for exciting viewing, but eventually the lighter and more powerful all-wheel drive Evo came out on top against the ponderous XUV 500.

"I am very pleased with the victory. I had a good fight with Gill yesterday, but he packed up and today (Saturday), Arjun (Aroor) did not start. But I was keen on scoring maximum points (39) which I managed to secure. Like I said yesterday, our focus is on the Asia Cup in Chikmagalur in December. This rally was about getting to know the car better and I think, we are on the right track," said Urs.

One of the best drives of the two-day event came from Kadur who blasted away in the Volkswagen Polo with timely encouragement from his partner Ponnusamy whose vast experience also contributed to their success.

"I was very tentative on Saturday, but after about four Kms into the first Stage on Friday, I began to feel comfortable in the car and I began to push. Of course, Vivek's huge experience also helped and there was calmness in the cabin which helped me a lot," said Kadur.

Provisional classification (after Leg-2):

IRC Overall: Lohitt Urs / Shrikant Gowda (Mitsubishi Evo VIII) 1 (01hr, 34mins, 59.1secs); Sunny Sidhu / PVS Murthy (Mahindra Adventure, Mahindra XUV500) 2 (01:39:27.6); Amittrajit Ghosh / Ashwin Naik (Mahindra Adventure, XUV 500) 3 (01:39:59.0).

IRC 2000: Rahul Kanthraj / Vivek Bhatt (Team Yokohama, Mitsubishi Cedia) 1 (01:43:06.5); Hrishikesh Thackersey / Ninad Mirajgaonkar (Chettinad Sporting, VW Polo) 2 (01:44:00.8); Sumit Panjabi / Nitin Jacob (SNAP Racing, Mitsubishi Cedia) 3 (01:46:10.7).

IRC 1600: Karna P Kadur / Vivek Ponnaswamy (Team Yokohama, VW Polo) 1 (01:40:30.5); Dr Bikku Babu / Milen George Cherian (Chettinad Sporting, VW Polo) 2 (01:42:15.4); Aroor Vikram Rao / Somayya AG (VW Polo) 3 (01:42:41.4).

FMSCI 1600 Cup: Adith KC / Harish KN (Honda City Vtec) 1 (01:43:53.2); Ashwin Reddy / Suraj M (Honda City Vtec) 2 (01:44:49.7); Habib Mohammed / Shahid Salman (Honda City Vtec) 3 (01:45:21.0).

(Anand Philar can be contacted at anandphilar@gmail.com)

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