Gill looking to consolidate in National Rally

November 17th, 2011 - 9:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Chikmagalur (Karnataka), Nov 17 (IANS) In what could be viewed as a strong indicator of its popularity, the Coffee Day Rally, the fifth round of the Indian National Rally Championship, beginning here Friday, has attracted an impressive 41 entries headed by a four-car team of MRF.

The event was not run last year that witnessed a truncated calendar of just five rounds, but it has returned with a vengeance, as it were, while promising some exciting competition, especially in the 2000cc (Group N) class that has eight entries led by championship leader Rahul Kanthraj (co-driver Vivek Bhatt) who is coming off a fine win in the previous round, the Karnataka-1000.

Incidentally, Kanthraj is in second place in the overall standings behind MRF’s Gaurav Gill (Musa Sherif), who will be looking to consolidate his position by notching his fourth win of the season.

The Coffee Day Rally holds fond memories for Gill who clinched the 2009 championship by winning this event despite being stuck in second gear and it amply compensated for a string of retirements. Of course, he received a little help from team-mate Lohitt Urs who took a three-minute penalty to drop to second place while enabling Gill to finish on top.

“I remember 2009 when I won. It was a great feeling. This time, the Stages are much faster as they have been widened, but a bit bumpy which is not a problem. I have always enjoyed driving here and hope to do well this time too,” said Gill.

In the championship standings, Gill is comfortably placed on 111 points, well clear of Kanthraj (59) and Urs (56) in the overall points standings.

Kanthraj has a fight on his hands in the 2000cc Group N class too. He has 102 points to 81 of young Karna Kadur (Somonita Ghosh) who missed the first round in Nashik, but came into contention with back-to-back wins in Chennai (South India Rally) and Coimbatore followed by leg points in K-1000.

Also of interest is the battle behind Kanthraj and Kadur, involving Sirish Chandran (Nikhil Pai) who is on 61, just ahead of Vikram Devadasen (55) and Shailendra Hegde (Prajval Pai, 46). However, Devadasen has opted out due to business commitments leaving Chandran and Hegde to fight it out.

The 1600cc class will witness a straight fight between Ranganekar siblings Anirudha (Anoop Kumar) and Sidharth (Nitin Jacob) with just 11 points separating the two.

Karan AM (Shanmuga SN) and Sanjay Agarwal (Shivaprakash E) head the two non-championship categories, Star Cup (1400cc) and Gypsy Cup, respectively.

The three Special Stages which will be repeated on Saturday and Sunday, after Friday’s Spectator Special Stage at the local Amber Valley school grounds, make up for 104 Kms of the 464 Kms event, the rest being transport section.

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