"IRC 1600cc: Arjun Rao/Satish Rajagopal (VW Polo) 1; Vikram Devadasen/Srikanth Gowda (Team Yokohama, VW Polo) 2; Phalguna Urs/Anoop Kumar (VW Polo) 3."
Coimbatore, July 12 - Asia Pacific Rally Champion (APRC) Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) showed who the boss is as he demolished the field in his factory-supported Mahindra XUV 500 to take the overall lead after Leg 1 in the Rally of Coimbatore, the second round of the Indian Rally Championship (IRC), here Saturday.
Gill dominated and finished with a lead of one minute, 29 seconds over second-placed Arjun Rao (Satish Rajagopal) which he plans to nurse Sunday when the remaining two Special Stages will be run. Gill's teammate and close rival Amittrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik) retired with a turbo problem in the first Stage.
The Delhi-based 32-year-old Gill, representing Team Mahindra Adventure, faltered just once when P.G. Abhilash (Kumar Ramaswamy) of R3A PGA Motorsport in a Mitsubishi Evo 6 made five seconds in the first Special Stage (26.1 km).
It was the first time I was racing him and after he made five seconds on me in the first Stage, I woke up and upped my pace, said Gill, who was fortunate enough to complete the Stages with a loose exhaust and fuel leak.
The exhaust bolt had come loose and there was a fuel leak. I guess, we were lucky to make it back to service park after the second look, said a relieved Gill, who had won the first round in Nashik last month.
Abhilash managed to finish the four Stages Overall second despite suffering a puncture. But on the transport run to service, he retired with a fuel pump problem.
Abhilash's retirement pushed Arjun Rao in a VW Polo to second Overall with Mahindra Adventure's Sunny Sidhu (P.V.S. Murthy) moving up to third.
Rao came up with a fine drive as he was quicker than other Polo cars and also the more powerful Mitsubishi Cedia to be Overall second and first in the IRC 1600cc class ahead of Team Yokohama's Vikram Devadasen (Srikanth Gowda).
Veteran Rahul Kanthraj (Vivek Bhatt), also of Team Yokohama and driving a Cedia, led the IRC 2000cc class with Byram Godrej (Nitin Jacob) of Slideways Industries in a Polo breathing down his neck and Prithvi Dominic (Ravindra MS), also in a Cedia third.
Raghunandan B. (Suraj K.) topped the FMSCI 1600 Cup class with Adith K.C. (Harish K.N.) in second. Both were in a Honda City V-Tec while Anirudha Ranganekar (Nitin Jacob) in a Maruti Baleno was third.
Provisional standings (after Leg 1):
IRC Overall: Gaurav Gill/Musa Sherif (Mahindra Adventure, XUV 500) 1 (1hr, 6mins, 53.7secs); Arjun Rao/Satish Rajagopal (VW Polo) 2 (01:08:23.4); Sunny Sidhu/PVS Murthy (Mahindra Adventure, XUV 500) 3 (01:09:23.1); Rahul Kanthraj/Vivek Bhatt (Team Yokohama, Cedia) 4 (01:10:12.2); Vikram Devadasen/Srikanth Gowda (Team Yokohama, VW Polo) 5 (01:10:18.8)
IRC 2000cc: Rahul Kanthraj/Vivek Bhatt (Team Yokohama, Mitsubishi Cedia) 1; Byram Godrej/Somayya AG (Slideways Industries, VW Polo) 2; Prithvi Dominic/Ravindra MS (Mitsubishi Cedia) 3.
IRC 1600cc: Arjun Rao/Satish Rajagopal (VW Polo) 1; Vikram Devadasen/Srikanth Gowda (Team Yokohama, VW Polo) 2; Phalguna Urs/Anoop Kumar (VW Polo) 3.
FMSCI 1600 Cup: Raghunandan B/Suraj K (Honda City V-Tec) 1; Adith KC/Harish KN (Honda City V-Tec) 2; Anirudha Ranganekar/Nitin Jacob (Maruti Baleno) 3.