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INRC Finale: Gill seals the sixth title, Illyas wins the hearts at Popular Rally Kochi 

Gaurav Gill and Musa Sherif
Gaurav Gill and Musa Sherif
Shahid Salman
Modified 17 Dec 2018

Mahindra Adventure’s Gaurav Gill was at his best to annex his sixth Indian National Rally Championship at the Popular Rally 2018.

The three-time APRC champion was at his imperious best along with his able co-driver Musa Sherif, winning seven stages and finishing second in two in the Popular Rally, the fifth and final round of the MRF FMSCI INRC 2018, to win the title.

Going into this iconic rally in the picturesque backdrop of Kerala with just a solitary point lead (62 to his teammate Amittrajit Ghosh’s 61) and seven points over Karna Kadur (55) with a three way fight for the title, Gill had to be cautious as he mounted his attack.

He began slowly, finishing second in the first two stages, before he came into his own. Guided by local boy Musa, he quickly got a feel of the terrain and made the necessary adjustments to win the next five stages. 

“It was a difficult year for us, especially towards the end due to mechanical issues which were beyond our control,” Gill conceded after his victory. “Kochi was the most difficult, with narrow roads which were fast and had broken tarmac too. We had to push extra hard to stay ahead of the others,” he added.

Amittrajit Ghosh, who had jumped into the lead after the first four rounds but had slipped to the second place due to the N-1 rule (the lowest points garnered in a round not being counted for the championship), needed a brilliant run to topple his teammate. He, along with Ashwin Naik, gave it their best shot but just couldn’t get the wins that would have mattered.

It was, however, good enough to give him the second position in the overall championship.

“It was a great year for us compared to last season. The championship just gets more and more competitive, which is great for the sport,” Amittrajit said. “The beginning of the season was really good but we hit issues from Chikmagalur and were really hit by the lack of pre-event testing and wrong set up choices in Kochi,” he said.

The home hero Younus Illyas nicknamed the Hulk co-driven by Harrish K from Bangalore won the hearts of the people with a superb performance to grab the win in the INRC 2 class and also finishing overall second behind the winner Gill in their Race Concepts prepared Mitsubishi Cedia

INRC 2 competitor Arka Motorsports’ Karna Kadur (and Nikhil V Pai) finished third to take the third place behind the Mahindra Adventure duo in the championship.


Kadur, however, had the consolation of winning the INRC 2 title which he had wrapped up in the previous round itself. 

Team Champions once again bagged the most number of podium finishes with Dean Mascarenhas being the fastest driver from the pack.



1 Gaurav Gill | Musa Sherif (Team Mahindra Adventure; 01:29:58.9)

2 Younus Ilyas | Harish KN (Race Concepts Motorsport; 01:30:33.1)

3 Karna Kadur | Nikhil V Pai (Arka Motorsports; 01:30:54.4)


1 Gaurav Gill | Musa Sherif (Team Mahindra Adventure; 01:29:58.9)

2 Sirish Chandran | A A Ragnekar (Sirish Chandran; 01:31:17.1)

3 Amittrajit Ghosh | Ashwin Naik (Team Mahindra Adventure; 01:31:51.6)


1 Younus Ilyas | Harish KN (Race Concepts Motorsport; 01:30:33.1)

2 Karna Kadur | Nikhil Vittal Pai (Arka Motorsports; 01:30:54.4)

3 Phalguna Urs | Srikanth GM (Snap Racing; 01:33:00.4)


1 Dean Mascarenhas | Shruptha Padival (01:33:07.9)

2 Fabid Ahmer | Sanat G (Chettinad Sporting; 01:34:47.4)

3 Darius N Shroff | Shahid Salman (01:35:20.6)


1 Vikram Gowda | Sudhundra B.G (Vikram Gowda; 01:39:08.9)

2 Suraj Thomas | Sob (Suraj Thomas; 01:40:57.8)

3 Lanusanen Pongener | Amrith (Amrith; 01:41:33.4)

Published 17 Dec 2018, 15:49 IST
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