Indian National Rally Championship ( INRC ) is a National rally championship organized by the Federation of Motorsport Clubs of India ( FMSCI) which is the ASN of India recognized by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) which is the International governing body for Motorsport.
INRC received its National Championship status in 1988.The INRC is based on stage rally format, prior to INRC, the Motor rallying in India was based on the Time Speed Distance(TSD)format.
A INRC round or event will consist of 8-10 special stages (SS) and a super special stage (SSS) run over a period of 2 days with the competitors covering close to 1000 kms in total .The distance is split into competitive stages and transport section (non-competitive).A rally usually starts at sunrise and the stages are run till the sunset and some of the rallies have stages in the night as well.
Some of the successful names in Indian rallying were V.R Naren Kumar, N. Leela Krishnan, Gaurav Gill, Hari Singh, Farad Bathena, Vikram Mathias, Arjun Balu, Arjun Rao Aroor, Amitrajjit Ghosh, Karna Kadur and Dean Mascarenhas. Naren holds the record for most championship wins in INRC, 7 championships till he announced his retirement in 2010. Gaurav Gill holds 5 INRC titles and 3 Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) titles to his credit, he is the only driver in India to do so and can be termed as the most successful rally driver till date in the Asian subcontinent.
The co-driver plays a prominent role in the success of every rally driver in the sport of rallying.Unlike a race car driver the rally drivers are not allowed to practice on the track or stage prior to the rally as the rules prohibit it.
The driver along with the co-driver conduct a reconnaissance (recce) of the rally stages in a prescribed speed limit where the co-driver makes a note of the distance, angle of the turns and the hazards on the stages. These notes prepared by the co-driver is called the pacenotes which is then read out to the driver during the actual rally.
Some the most successful co-drivers in India are Musa Sherif the co-driver of Gaurav Gill , D.Ram Kumar who navigated Naren Kumar, PVS Murthy, Ashwin Naik and Nikhil V Pai to name a few.
The Scissors Action rally team was the first professional team based out of Coimbatore which competed from the 80's and also won the inaugural INRC in 1988. MRF had been sponsoring drivers since the 80's and entered as a TEAM MRF in 1988 while JK Tyre Motorsport made their INRC debut in 1992, the greatest rivalry in the INRC was between these two teams until JK made their exit at the end of 2006 INRC season. The other major teams in INRC were Chettinad Sporting, Red Rooster, Mahindra Adventure, RRPM and Arka Motorsport.
MRF made their exit in 2011 with a record 14 INRC Championships to their credit, JK has won it 6 times while Mahindra Adventure, Red Rooster and RRPM share 2 Championship titles each.
Photo credits: Anand Philar
Ambassadors and Premier Padmini dominated the National Rally in the 80's. The Group A(II) IND Premier Padmini's took part in the INRC till the 90's.
In the early 90's the competitors made a switch to Gypsy's which were preferred because of their 4 wheel drive system and off-road capabilities.The year 1996 was a landmark year in the INRC with the introduction of Maruti Esteem which was much quicker and lighter than any of the previous cars.Esteems have been the most successful rally car in the INRC making their presence in the National rallying for more than two decades and counting.
The Millennium 2000 saw the INRC drivers switch to Honda city Vtec and Suzuki Baleno's which was far more superior to the esteem, and was the preferred choice of the major teams like MRF and JK. The group N+ Cedia's were introduced in 2008 which produced over 230 BHP + and the major teams switched over to these super powerful 2 wheel drive cars.
In the recent years, VW Polo and Cedia have become the most preferred rally car in the INRC for privateers. The introduction of a foreign class in 2012 made way for some 4 wheel drivers cars like EVO 6, EVO X and Subaru Impreza make their presence in Indian rallying with privateers like Samir Thapar, Zuhin and P.G Abhilash behind the wheels of these expensive foreign rally cars. Lately, the Mahindra XUV has dominated the INRC with star driver Gaurav Gill as the pilot.
Photo credits: Anand Philar
The INRC National Rally's
The INRC rallies are conducted across different states of India. The oldest rally running being the K1000 rally of Karnataka which has been running for 40 years and counting.The Coffee Day India Rally previously know as Coffee 500 which takes part in the coffee plantations of Chikamagaluru, Karnataka which has also been an FIA International Asia Pacific Rally Championship in last few years. The other rallies include South India Rally- Chennai, Rally of Maharashtra- Nashik, Rally of Coimbatore, Popular Rally - Kerala and Rally of Arunachal.