Gaurav Gill and Musa Sherif's unexpected exit on the last day gave Ghosh and Naik the ultimate opportunity to secure a win for team Mahindra Adventure in Round Three of the INRC 2018.
Well, it was Arunachal Pradesh's turn to play host to Round Three of the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) 2018. Termed as the Rally of Arunachal, the two-day round gave spectators a one-of-a-kind opportunity to witness the kings of gravel and muddy terrain to showcase their skills on tarmac which was indeed a first for any round of the INRC yet. With this unique aspect, the overall setup of Round Three was straightforward: Seven Special Stages (SS1-SS7) spread across two days with each one running a distance of 14.30kms on a winding patch of National Highway 415 (between Itanagar and Hollongi). Continuing with the usual modus operandi, the competitors were divided into three vehicle classes - INRC 1, 2 and 3. The rally was flagged off on 2nd November 2018 in the august presence of the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Mr Pema Khandu.
Gaurav Gill and Musa Sherif, who had been dominating this year's competition with wins in both Round One and Two, fell victims to a mechanical failure (driveshaft issues) during the penultimate stage (SS6) of the Rally of Arunachal which gave their teammates, Amittrajit Ghosh and Ashwin Naik, a chance to post a victory in Round Three, both in the INRC 1 category as well as in the overall standings, with an overall stage time of 00:57:33.6. Prior to their misfortune in SS6, Gill and Sherif also suffered a puncture during SS2 which allowed Ghosh and Naik to post the fastest time in that stage, Notably, this was the first ever stage defeat conceded by Gill and Sherif in the 2018 season.
However, Ghosh and Naik did not have a smooth journey either. The duo finished SS1 in 9th place which was against all expectations. Apparently, their Super XUV was not firing on all cylinders because of which they suffered a significant power loss. However, they had the car fixed before SS2. They then went on to gain the top spot on the leaderboard by the end of SS6 and were able to defend their lead in SS7 which gave them their first victory of the 2018 season. In terms of the teams competing, despite the leaderboard swap in Round Three, the silverware still went home with Mahindra Adventure.
Behind the first-placed Mahindra duo by just 5.9 seconds, with an overall stage time of 00:57:39.5, Phalguna Urs and Srikanth of team Snap Racing secured an overall second place but, they managed to sweep the silverware in the INRC 2 category. Dean Mascarenhas and Shruptha Padival, ironically, of Team Champions, were crowned champions in the INRC 3 category which meant an overall third place finish for the duo.
With Round Three done and dusted, the 2018 season of the INRC is still left with two more rounds to go, which will take place in December 2018.
Overall Round Standings
1. Amittrajit Ghosh | Ashwin Naik (Team Mahindra Adventure; 00:57:33.6)
2. Phalguna Urs | Srikanth (Snap Racing; 00:57:39.5)
3. Dean Mascarenhas | Shruptha Padival (Team Champions; 00:57:57.7)
1. Amittrajit Ghosh / Ashwin Naik (Team Mahindra Adventure; 00:57:33.6) 2. Lokesh Gowda / Venu Ramesh Kumar (Team Champions; 01:07:20.8)
1. Phalguna Urs / Srikanth (Snap Racing; 00:57:39.5)
2. Karna Kadur / PVS Murthy (Arka Motorsports; 00:58:37.0)
3. Rahul Kanthraj / Vivek Y Bhatt (Arka Motorsports; 00:58:55.2)
1. Dean Mascarenhas / Shruptha Padival (Team Champions; 00:57:57.7)
2. Aroor Vikram Rao / Somayya AG (Falkon Motorsports; 01:05:17.0)
3. Phurpa Tsering / Chow Tiktha (Phurpa Tsering; 01:14:57.9)