Composed Gill in lead

The Delhi-born driver, who is renowned for keeping his foot firmly on the accelerator even in the worst of situations, had his share of trouble on the day but despite that he blitzed through Round I (three stages) and was astoundingly composed in Round II (three stages in reverse) to complete the six-stage day one in 54 minutes and 54 seconds — 38 seconds ahead of second-placed team-mate Amittrajit Ghosh (co-driver Ashwin Naik).
“There were no problems at all. The engine was misfiring towards the end though,” said Gill. “Hopefully, they (mechanics) will fix it. But there’s nothing to worry about, I will be cruising. The stages are rough and there is no point in going fast. If it rains tomorrow though, it’s going be a new rally. If it does not rain it is going to be even rougher and bumpier.”

Suspension problem
Whilst Gill, who endured a mechanical failure at the start of the first stage, and ex-Red Rooster Racing driver Ghosh, who was livid with the suspension set-up at the start of the race, relived their rivalry in full throttle on a sunny Saturday, cars fell prey to the track.
Going by the weather trend in the region, it was expected to rain on Friday night and Saturday, which would have made the track slippery. The weather was, however, clear and the drivers were at the mercy of hardening clay.

With each passing car, the loose, wet soil gathered and formed a concrete-like layer upon drying, making good handling close to impossible.

Some drivers went ahead and pushed their car to the limit and ended up on the sidelines. Some, however, were sent packing without getting to spend as much time.

Balu out
Off the big teams, Team MRF’s Arjun Balu was ushered out of the race due to mechanical failure in the first stage, while AR Racing’s Arjun Rao Aroor, former MRF wingman, was out of the race in the third stage with gear-box failure.

Three special stages at Sidhlaghatta and the 2-km Super Special Stage at Clarks Exotica remain to be run on Sunday, and Gill would have to go way too wrong in these stages to not bag the title.


Results:  Overall/ 2000cc (Group N+): Gaurav Gill/ Musa Sherif (Team MRF, 54 minutes, 54 seconds); Amittrajit Ghosh/ Ashwin Naik (Team MRF, 55.32) 2; Lohitt V Urs/ Srinivasa Murthy (Team MRF, 56.25) 3. 2000cc (Group N): Karna Kadur/ Somonnito Ghosh (59.55) 1; Rahul Kantharaj/ Vivek Y Bhatt (1:53.0) 2; Sreeharsh SD/ Uday Kumar D (1:02:39) 3.
1600cc: Balram CG/ Raghuram CG (1:05.47) 1; Siddharth Rangnekar/ Nitin Jacob (1:08.09, including road penalty of 1:30) 2; Hanoosh Suraneni/ Ravindra Kumar (1:08.46) 3. 1400cc (Rally Star Cup): Dean Mascarenhas/ Shruptha Padival (1:02.33) 1; Karan AM/ Shanmuga SN (Kari Motorsports, 1:04.38) 2; Aditya Shivaram/ Kariyappa KB (1:05.53). Gypsy Cup (Modified T1): Sandeep Sharma/ Venu Ramesh Kumar (1:05.32) 1. (Stock T2): Shafeeq Ur Rahman/ Ajith KP (1:06.14) 1; Sanjay Agarwal/ Shivaprakash E (1:07.27) 2; Alok Mishra/ Rohit Arya (1:15.37) 3.

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