India’s rally king Gaurav Gill underlined his supremacy in the Popular Rally, the final round of the Champions Yacht Club FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship, winning the title for an unprecedented fifth time on a pulsating day of action in Kottayam on Sunday.
The Team Mahindra driver, supported by JK Tyre and with Musa Sherif as his co-driver, won SS9 and finished second in SS10 and SS11 on Day 2 to regain his aura over the weekend with some brilliant driving. Gill’s teammates, Dean Mascarenhas and Suhem Kabeer, too did well, taking the third and fourth positions in Popular Rally’s overall category.
Bengaluru’s Chetan Shivram, however, seems set to take the 2019 INRC champion, riding on his twin triumphs in the Rally of Coimbatore and the K1000 in Bengaluru. The MRF supported driver, who had suffered a massive crash in the opening stage on Saturday, returned to complete Day 2’s three stages to protect his lead.
Chetan of Team Akshara, along with Dilip Sharan, nursed his car smartly, taking the tenth position in SS9 but revved up to the fifth in the last two stages for a valiant show. A second crown, the INRC 3 category, however, may well have eluded him as Fabid Ahmer (Sanath G) pipped him to the post. Fabid finished second behind Aditya Thakur (Virender Kashyap) which was probably good enough to nudge off Chetan from the top.
Team Champions’ Dr Bikku Babu (Milen George), a local favourite, finished third in the overall category and first in his own INRC 2 for a highly rewarding Popular Rally. Tied with JK Tyre’s Dean Mascarenhas (Shruptha Padival) on 72 points at the start of the round, his win has surely fetched him the INRC 2 title for the season too.
In the INRC 4 category, Suraj George along with co-driver emerged supreme, while Vaibhav Marathe (Arjun SSB) and Rakshith Iyer/Chandrashekhar finished second and third.