With just one final leg of the 2017 Maruti-Suzuki Dakshin Dare Rally left to go, Team Maruti-Suzuki's Suresh Rana finds himself in the lead - a spot he is familiar with - but only 38 seconds ahead of the rising new talent Samrat Yadav after the end of Leg 4.
The Lionnoil sponsored driver has proved himself to be an exciting new talent in Indian cross-country rallying but with a reputation of being too aggressive to his detriment in previous events, including the 2015 Raid de Himalaya. Cooler heads will, no doubt, be advising him to exercise some degree of caution while trying to eat up the slender lead that India's current cross-country king has over him.
In fact, Yadav almost retired from the rally yesterday as his Gypsy nearly toppled over during a right-hand corner before going off into a ditch. Only by the fortuitous presence of two onlookers was Yadav able to get his car running again instead of being classified as a non-finisher. Rana managed to pass him in the overall standings after that incident on the third leg of the rally yesterday, but Yadav has nonetheless, continued to be aggressive in his pursuit of victory.
Sandeep Sharma continues to hold third place in Ultimate Cars almost 16 minutes behind Yadav.
TVS CONTINUE TO HOLD BIKES LEAD
As the rally held its first ever stages in Maharashtra - close to the border with Karnataka after crossing over from Belgaum - competitors were treated to windy and rainy conditions while making their way through a stage that featured a narrow road with a drop on either side of it. On one side, a canal and on the other farm fields.
The cars completed three runs of the 28km stage while the bikes did two. The Ultimate Bikes class is still led by TVS Racing's R Nataraj and Tanveer Adbul Wahid. The duo took over the lead from surprise early leader Sanjay Kumar on the second leg and have held it firmly with little sign of surrendering it despite one or two navigation issues for Wahid caused by what he claims was malfunctioning equipment.
Wahid won a berth to take part in the Merzouga Rally and the Dakar Rally but his participation in next year's South American cross-country spectacle is still subject to training and evaluation by Sherco-TVS.
The rider, who finished third in this year's India Baja, will be headed to Europe for intense navigation training in order to prepare himself for the toughest rally in the world.