Team JK Tyre claimed top honours in Round 1 of the 2020 INRC season, with Gaurav Gill victorious and teammate Dean Mascarenhas claiming the third spot overall, as well as the INRC 2 category win.
Three-time Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) champion and six-time Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) winner Gaurav Gill, along with his navigator Musa Sherif, started his 2020 INRC season with a solid win in the opening round – Rally of Arunachal – that concluded recently in Itanagar.
Though Gill and his teammate Ammitrajit Ghosh (with co-driver Ashwin Naik) were seen piloting full-R2-spec Mahindra XUV300s, it should be noted that team Mahindra Adventure is not competing in the 2020 INRC season. Instead, JK Tyre is backing the former Mahindra duo, along with a few more renowned names like Dean Mascarenhas (co-driver Shruptha Padival), Suhem Kabir, Fabid Ahmer (with co-driver Eldo Chacko) and Syed Salman. Mahindra has, however, given Gill and Ghosh their XUV300 to compete with.
Gill and Sherif were in full control of the rally right from the opening day as the duo opened up a healthy lead of over four minutes. Behind them, MRF Tyres-backed privateer Karna Kadur (with co-driver Nikhil Pai, driving VW Motorsport India's R2-spec Polo) drove resiliently and tried his best to catch up to the frontrunner, Gill. Despite battling a flat tyre in the final stage, Gill still managed to take the overall victory, with a lead of 4 minutes & 25.7 seconds over MRF's Kadur. Gill's teammate Dean Mascarenhas (also driving a VW Polo), meanwhile, claimed the final spot on the podium and also took home the crown in the INRC 2 category.
Team Yokohoma, making their return to the Indian motorsport scene with the 2020 INRC season, did not have a dream start to their fresh Indian inning. The Japanese outfit has roped in defending INRC champion Chetan Shivram (with co-driver Rupesh Kholay in a VW Polo) along with Lokesh Gowda (Mitsubishi Cedia) to compete in the INRC 2 category, while Denn Thimmaiya (Mitsubishi Cedia) will lead the charge for Team Yokohama in the INRC 1 category. Unfortunately, both Gowda and Shivram were unable to complete Round 1, as the latter crashed out due to an engine failure.
Pragathi Gowda (with co-driver Deeksha Balakrishna) of the first-ever women-only team in the INRC, Team Vasundhara, made a strong statement on her maiden INRC outing. Not only did she manage to pip her teammate and rally veteran Bani Yadav to win the women's category but also scooped up a win in the Junior INRC category.
Due to lockdown restrictions this year, the 2020 INRC season will only run five rounds. The next round will also take place in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh and the remaining three rounds will be completed in January 2021.