The INRC circus heads to Cochin, Popular Rally for the grand finale of the Indian National Rally Championship 2018.
Mahindra Adventure's Amittrajit Ghosh leads the overall standings ahead of teammate Gaurav Gill and Karna Kadur from Arka Motorsport. It is going to a three-way fight for the drivers' championship title in the twisty mountain roads of Kuttikanam.
With the N-1 rule coming into play, Gill will theoretically have a one point advantage over Ghosh and seven points over Kadur. The defending Champion will have to win the rally to ensure the 2018 title, the same applies to his teammate Ghosh who hasn't won the title since 2013.
On the hand, Karna has an outside chance of winning his and Volkwagen's second-ever INRC title if he manages to win the rally and Gaurav Gill finishes third or lower. If Kadur wins and Gill finishes second they will be tied on the points and the latter will be crowned the National Champion as Gill will have the most number of second place finishes ( if he finishes second in Kerala) this season.
The Super XUV 500s have dominated the INRC since their inception in 2014 and have won two national titles so far. In 2016 Karna won his first championship in an Arka powered VW Polo making his the first driver in an Indian car to defend Mahindra.
The Popular rally is a mix of high-speed and twisty tarmac stages. High-speed stages are often suited for turbocharged XUVs while the Polo's are quicker in the twisty roads. Gaurav has lost out on valuable points due to mechanical problems earlier this year at Arunachal and Chikamagalur, a trouble-free run at Kerala should ensure the most experienced rally driver in the country his sixth national title.
Amittrajit Ghosh is yet to win a title with the Mahindra Adventure team and will be looking to end his four-year title drought. Karna Kadur who sealed the INRC-2 championship with a phenomenal win at home ( Coffeeday Rally) will be hoping to repeat his performance at Kerala which puts him on the best spot for his second National title.
When and where is the Popular Rally 2018 happening?
The rally will be flagged off from Le Meridien Cochin at 11.30 am on the 13th of December.
The competitors will then head to Kuttikkanam in Idduki district where 11 special stages (SS) are scheduled to run on the 15th and 16th of December and head back to Cochin for the Super Special Stage (SSS) at HMT Colony Road, Kalamassery at 3 pm (13th December, Sunday).
The major Indian rallying teams like Mahindra Adventure, ARKA Motorsports, Snap Racing, Chettinad Sporting and Team Champions have already registered for the Rally and close to 30 entries are expected this year.