Two-time Asia-Pacific Rally (APRC) champion Gaurav Gill began his MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) on a positive note, winning the first round of the competition here on Sunday.
The 35-year-old ace rallyist and his co-driver Musa Sherif, who were fourth off the blocks, stormed into the lead in the first stage itself.
Gill tackled the gravel road with all its twists and turns in his typical aggressive way to round it up in just 12 minutes and 11 seconds, a full 18 seconds ahead of the 24-car field.
Driving for Team Mahindra in an XUV 500, Delhi’s Gill showed his class and gumption in the remaining four stages too, sweeping each of them in style. He kept increasing his lead by a minimum of 20 seconds in each stage to finish the 70-odd km in an hour and 36 seconds, almost in a canter.
Defending INRC champion Karna Kadur and Nikhil Pai (Arka Motorsports) from Bengaluru finished one minute 45 seconds behind to take the second position.
Amittrajit Ghosh and Ashwin Naik (Team Mahindra Adventure) grabbed the last spot on the podium even though they had technical issues with his vehicle.
Commenting on his win, Gill said: “It was a good win. I enjoy driving here in Coimbatore and it’s always nice to start the season with a victory.”
“It was a nice smooth round, with no drama and no fuss. I particularly enjoyed the second stage where our skill and control came into play,” he added.
Second spot finisher Karna showed immense speed in his Polo but just couldn’t match Gill’s pyrotechnics.
However, he stayed ahead of the pack in the INRC 2 category. Rahul Kanthraj and Vivek Bhatt who finished overall fifth took the second position three seconds later.
Dean Mascarenhas and Shruptha Padival claimed the Round one honours in INRC 3, finishing fourth in the INRC pecking order.
One of the leading pairs, Arjun Rao and Satish Rajgopal, pulled out in the first stage itself.