Gaurav Gill and experienced navigator Musa Sherif topped the time sheets and cheered the crowds with their thrilling drifts and daring speed runs in the SUV class as Mahindra Adventure Rally team but all eyes were on reigning National champions Amittrajit Ghosh and co-driver Ashwin Naik, who clocked steady timings. Sporting MRF colours, the duo clinched their second consecutive National title as the IMG 39th K-1000 rally, the fourth round of the FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship (INRC), concluded near here on Sunday.
Driving a Mahindra XUV 500, the newly-crowned Asia Pacific Rally Champion Gill, has to be satisfied with the SUV Rally Championship title. He is not in contention for the INRC title as he entered a non-INRC class. Teammates Lohitt Urs and co-driver Bonnie Thomas finished second. Malaysian rally ace and former WRC (production) and APRC winner Karamjit Singh and co-driver Jagdev Singh, who set the best times after Gill in their factory-prepared Polo R2 won the Indian Rally Championship.
Driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia in Group N 1600 class, Ghosh and Naik clocked 1hr, 34 mins and 46.6 seconds. Rahul Kantharaj and Vivek Bhat, who were third overnight, took the second place pushing Prithvi Dominic and Pruthivi Sthal to third.
Ghosh will be out of country and will be missing the final round at Chikmaglur next month due to last-minute change in the dates. ``I am very happy to clinch the championship here. We were under tremendous pressure but we managed to drive safely and clock steady times,’’ said the Kolkota rallyist, whose father Arindam Ghosh won the K-1000 in 1981.
Driving a Volkswagen Polo rally car in the INRC 1600cc class, championship leader Arjun Rao and co-driver Satish Rajagopal, who were trailing Phalguna Urs and Anoop Kumar by a narrow margin yesterday, managed to gain 17 seconds in SS 8 to pip them to second place. Sirish Chandran and co-driver Nikhil Pai of Slideways Industries, also in a Volkswagen Polo rally car, came third.
In the Junior INRC class, Suhem MK and navigator Jeevarathinam came first followed by Aroor Viram Rao and co-driver Somayya AG. Rohan Pawar and Arjun Mehta finished third while Championship leader Asad Khan and co-driver Zayne Asrar could manage only a sixth place.
Ten cars out of the 37 that took the starting flag failed to finish the rally. The fifth and final round of the INRC will be held at Chikmaglur on Dec 6, 7 and 8.