While most of the limelight in the Indian rallying sphere justifiably shone on Gaurav Gill’s WRC-2 campaign along with MRF Tyres, arguably India’s second-best rally driver, Amittrajit Ghosh’s efforts in the ERC-3 category of the European Rally Championship didn’t go unnoticed. Winning his first outing at the European level, and at a rally considered to be a car-breaker was no mean feat.
Ghosh and his co-driver Ashwin Naik slipped into their R2-specification Ford Fiesta before the first stage got underway without even so much as a pre-event test. Not to mention, doing so on a relatively lower budget to his rivals, which left him with fewer spare parts and a limited amount of adjustments that could be made to enhance performance.
‘We had only one-way adjustable dampers on this car,’ Ghosh told autoX. ‘Normally at this level you would compete with three-way dampers that would allow you to tune the car’s handling for high and low-speed compression as well as rebound.
‘I had to call up Leela (Krishnan, former seven-time national rally champion) in India about what I could do with such a compromised setup!’
The tips from N Leelakrishnan paid off as Ghosh finished the 12-stage, 237.89km rally ahead of the ERC-3 field as many of his rivals fell victim to the rough terrain.
‘Having only limited spares means that I couldn’t afford to damage the car badly,’ said Ghosh. ‘In order for me to finish the car had to look the same way it did at the start of the rally in order to pass post-event scrutineering.’
At present Ghosh is waiting for word on his sponsors so that he can continue his campaign, but even if it comes through, it will not be easy. The Fiesta he is driving is said to be 60 to 70 horsepower down on a similar specification as Citroen DS3 and by a slightly lesser margin to the Peugeot 208.
Offers from bigger teams would only cover thirty percent of the budget to run in eight rallies, leaving Ghosh to find 400,000 Euros on his own.