Chikkamagaluru gears up for Asia Cup

Lohitt Urs starts favourite for international meet; Gill eyes strong outing

Chikkamagaluru gears up for Asia Cup
After a little over a decade, India will finally play host to an international rally when the Coffee Day India Rally kicks off at the scenic Chikkamagaluru on Dec 11.

Apart from being the fourth and final round of the FIA Asia Cup -- considered as the test event to get the coveted Asia Pacific Rally Championship nod for the next season -- the three-day rally will also double up as the concluding race of the FMSCI Indian Rally Championship.

The Asia Cup was originally allotted to India last year, but the dates were found unsuitable and hence the organisers, Motor Sports Club of Chikmagalur (MSCC), opted to run the event this year. Australia’s Peter Mecneal has been deputed as the Observer and his final report will decide Chikkamagaluru’s fate in next season’s APRC calendar.

“It is a dream come true for us at the M​SCC,” a delighted Farooq Ahmed, chairman of FMSCI Rally Commission and vice-president of MSCC, told the media on Tuesday. “It was always our ambition to put Chikkamagaluru on the international motorsport map and we are happy that the dream has become a reality. The event has an asterisk mark for 2016. We are confident of putting up a fine show and becoming a part of APRC. That would be a landmark moment for us.”

Although the rally has an international flavour, it will be shorn of top international drivers as all have pulled out after suffering car damages in the previous race.

PG Abhilash and Lohitt Urs, both in the Mitsubishi Evolution cars, along with Arjun Rao Aroor, piloting the Volkswagen Polo (R2B), head the Asia Cup field that also includes th​ree female participant​s​ Garima Avtar​, Bani Yadav and Sukhman Mann.

The IRC will have its usual complement of full grid headlined by reigning National champion Gaurav Gill, representing Team Mahindra Adventure and driving the Mahindra XUV 500, with the likes of Team Yokohama’s Rahul Kanthraj and Karna Kadur besides a clutch of young, talented drivers such as Dean Mascarenhas and Adith KC.

The event will kick off with the Super Special Stage at the Amber Valley School ​grounds ​on Dec 11 afternoon. The Special Stages will be held on Dec 12 and 13. While IRC drivers will compete across a distance of 122 kms, the Asia Cup participants will cover 180 kms.

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