Karna Kadur and Nikhil Pai
jumped to the lead of the MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship (INRC)
standings with victory in the prestigious Coffee Day India Rally at the end of
three days of hard-fought action through the coffee plantations of Chikmagalur
after favourites, Amittrajit Ghosh and Ashwin Naik failed to finish the event
on account of mechanical failure while leading the event by 27.6 seconds with
just one special stage to go.
Kadur ion his Volkswagen Polo drove
through the lush coffee estates on the outskirts of the South Indian town with
an overall time of 1:52:15.9.
Ghosh and Naik, who had a
chance of sealing the championship in this round itself had they won, were
leading all the way through the three-day event in their Mahindra XUV 500 even
though it wasn’t as well suited to the narrow twists. The Team Mahindra Adventure pair was looking
good for an easy win until bad luck struck. Dr Bikku Babu and Milen George
finished second overall, 1:15.5 adrift, and was also the second placed finisher
in the INRC 2000cc category which was won by Kadur as well. Coming in third
overall as well as in the INRC 2000cc category was Rahul Kanthraj and Vivek
Bhatt with a time of 1:55:27.6.
The FMSCI Cup was won by Jacob
K J and Manoj Mohanan with a time of 2:01:14.8.
The Coffee Day India Rally win
was Kadur’s first this season. The Bangalore based 28 year old becomes the
fourth different winner this year in as many rallies with the opening three
rallies been won by Amittrajit Ghosh, Gaurav Gill & Arjun Rao respectively.
Kadur had also finished second in the previous round, the MRF Rally de North,
heading into the championship’s two-and-a-half month long mid-season break.
He pockets 25 points for the
win but was denied the maximum 39 available this weekend with victory in the
two legs – worth seven points each – split between him and Ghosh.
However, the win does put him
at the championship lead held by Ghosh till now, setting the stage for a
two-way title showdown between him and Dr Babu, in the fifth and final round of
the season to be held in Bengaluru later this month.
A championship contender
coming into this round, Arjun Rao, failed to finish the rally when he had
engine failure in SS 3 and thus fell out of the championship race. Sunny Sidhu
of Team Mahindra Adventure also failed
to finish the event while running third due to mechanical failure. Gaurav Gill
also no longer has a chance to win the championship owing to missing this round
on account of his Team MRF duties elsewhere.
It must be noted that the INRC
and IRC are two separate championships and their results are not clubbed
together or compared as they run distinctively different vehicles. The INRC is
for two-wheel drive Indian vehicles only while four-wheel drive foreign vehicles
are allowed to compete in the IRC.
The Coffee Day India Rally is
the Indian rallying season’s blue-riband event and the only rally on the
calendar to run across three days. Kadur and Pai took home Rs. 50,000/- in
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