Rally of Coimbatore: Gaurav Gill, Amittrajit Ghosh to rekindle rivalry
Coimbatore, July 11 (IANS): Gaurav Gill and Amittrajit Ghosh may be team-mates, but that has not dimmed the competition between two of India's best drivers who will be at it again in the Rally of Coimbatore, the second round of the FMSCI Indian Rally Championship commencing here Saturday.
Front-runner Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) and his Mahindra Adventure mate Ghosh (Ashwin Naik), the 2013 National champion, in their modified XUV 500 monsters had little or no competition in the first round at Nashik and barring retirements, the duo should be topping the timesheets here too.
The ever popular Rally of Coimbatore has attracted 36 entries with four in the top-end IRC class, seven in the IRC 2000cc, 12 in the IRC 1600cc and 13 in the FMSCI Cup. The Rally of Maharashtra in Nashik, the only tarmac event in the championship, had 20 participants.
The 2013 Asia Pacific champion Gill won at Nashik last month, despite being docked road penalty of one minute, 40 seconds on the first day.
On the other hand, Ghosh, despite piloting the XUV 500 for the first time after switching from a Group N-spec Mitsubishi Cedia, was very much on pace, but had to settle for second place after an off-road excursion that cost him time on the final day.
For company in the IRC class, the pair will have team-mate Sunny Sidhu (PVS Murthy) and PG Abhilash (Kumar Ramaswamy) of team R3A PGA Motorsport who will be in a Mitsubishi Evo 6.
Competition in the 2000cc and 1600cc classes is expected to be as fierce. The return of young Karna Kadur who sat out the 2013 season, with veteran BS Sujith Kumar who has come out of retirement in the co-driver's seat in a Cedia should spice up the 2000cc grid.
Kadur will have to contend with Byram Godrej (Somayya AG) of Slideways Industries who was third Overall in Nashik and championship leader in the 2000cc class driving a VW Polo, and veteran Rahul Kanthraj (Vivek Bhatt) of Team Yokohama in a Cedia.
Likewise, the 1600cc class sees the return of another young gun Dean Mascarenhas, the collegian from Mangalore, with Shanmugha SN as his navigator and last year's champion in this class Arjun Rao (Satish Rajagopal).
Both Mascarenhas and Rao skipped the Nashik round and their presence would certainly put pressure on Nashik winner Hrishikesh Thackersey (Ninad Mirajgaonkar) and Sirish Chandran (Nikhil Pai).
The grid for the FMSCI Cup has also considerably strengthened with several crews that had opted out of the Rally of Maharashtra returning to action. Last year's champion in the now-defunct Junior INRC category Suhem MK (Jeevarathinam) heads the class in a Maruti Baleno along with Nashik winner Anirudha Ranganekar (Nitin Jacob).
The total distance of the Rally is 347.4 km of which 114.1 km is competitive. There are two physical stages, Textool (24.81 kms) and Gem (12.45 kms), that will be run twice Saturday and once Sunday when the event concludes with a Spectator Special Stage of 2.2 kms on the Kari Motor Speedway race track.