Nashik: While Team Mahindra Adventure`s Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) expectedly topped the time charts in a full-blown, modified XUV 500 in the SUV class, Amittrajit Ghosh (Ashwin Naik), in a Group N-spec Mitsubishi Cedia, took the overall lead in the INRC at the end of Leg 1 in the Mahindra Adventure Rally of Maharashtra, here Saturday.
Ghosh, winner of the first round in Chennai in March, survived a puncture and wrong tyre choice for a slender lead over Arjun Rao (Satish Rajagopal) who was in a Volkswagen Polo (1600cc) while Vikram Mathias (Srikanth Gowda), also in a Group N Cedia, was placed third overall in the Indian National Rally Championship.
In the Junior INRC, first round winner Suhem MK (Jeevarathinam) in a Maruti Baleno opened a one-minute lead over Asad Khan (Zayne Asrar) driving a Maruti Esteem with Anirudha Ranganekar (Nitin Jacob) in a VW Polo third after the 28 competitors completed two loops of the three Special Stages with intermittent rains adding spice to the proceedings.
The rally concludes Sunday when the vehicles will run another loop of the three Special Stages, located some 65 Kms from Nashik, before returning to the city.
Gill, participating in the SUV National championship class that is run concurrently with the INRC, was quickest in five of the six Special Stages on Saturday as he gave yet another grand exhibition of his driving skills.
Meanwhile, in the Indian Rally Championship class, the Malaysian pair of Karamjit Singh, the former Production World Rally and APRC champion, and co-driver Jagdev Singh in a modified VW Polo car in the Slideways Industries livery, were second quickest overall behind Gill, but were comfortably ahead of team-mate Rohan Pawar (Arjun Mehta) by over nine minutes in their category.
Unofficial classification (Leg 1):
INRC - Overall: Amittrajit Ghosh / Ashwin Naik (Group N Mitsubishi Cedia) 1 (01hr, 01.0secs); Arjun Rao / Satish Rajagopal (VW Polo) 2 (01:00:10.0); Vikram Mathias / Srikanth Gowda (Group N Cedia) 3 (01:00:20.0).
INRC 2000cc: Ghosh/Naik 1; Mathias / Gowda 2; Rahul Kanthraj / Vivek Bhatt (Group N Cedia) 3 (01:01:53.0).
INRC 1600cc: Rao / Rajagopal 1; Raghunandan B / Suraj K (Honda City) 2 (01:03:08.0); Hrishikesh Thakersay / Ninad Mirajgaonkar (VW Polo) 3 (01:03:17.0).
Junior INRC: Suhem MK / Jeevarathinam (Maruti Baleno) 1 (01:02:59.0); Asad Khan / Zayne Asrar (Maruti Esteem) 2 (01:03:59.0); Anirudha Ranganekar / Nitin Jacob (VW Polo) 3 (01:06:45.0).
SUV NRC: Gaurav Gill / Musa Sherif (Mahindra Adventure, XUV 500) 1 (00:58:06.0); Lohitt Urs / Bonnie Thomas (Mahindra Adventure, XUV 500) 2 (01:05:07.0).
IRC: Karamjit Singh / Jagdev Singh (Slideways Industries, VW Polo) 1 (00:59:19.0); Rohan Pawar / Arjun Mehta (Slideways Industries, VW Polo) 2 (01:09:00.0).