Bangalore: The once popular Indian National Rally Championship run under the aegis of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) touched rock bottom with the cancellation of Rally of Maharashtra, the final round, that was scheduled to be held in Nashik Jan 5-6, 2013.
The original four-round 2012 INRC was reduced to three following cancellation of the Coorg Rally due to adverse weather conditions.
The Rally of Maharashtra was to be the final round, but was cancelled taking into account the feedback from competitors after the event was shifted from Ahmednagar (dirt terrain) to Nashik (tarmac).
Thus, the 2012 INRC is reduced to just two rounds - the Karnataka 1000 and the Coffee Day Rally - that will be considered to declare 2012 national champions, according to a communique from FMSCI chief executive Rajan Syal.
"The proposed third round of INRC 2012 - Rally of Maharashtra could not be held on the scheduled date as the organisers did not get the required permissions from the land owners for the route of some of the gravel stages," Syal said in a statement.
"WISA, the organisers, then explored the alternative to run it as a tarmac event in first week of January 2013. But many of the competitors have reverted stating it will require a new set of tarmac tyres, suspensions and brakes, and due to the holiday season, they may not get the parts in time and thereby will not be in a position to participate."
"Taking into account the feedback of all concerned, we are left with no option but to close the INRC 2012 and declare the Championship results at the end of The Coffee day Rally of Chikmaglur," Syal`s statement said.
It brings to a sorry end the 2012 INRC season that commenced only in October after failure to find a promoter or title sponsor for the championship with FMSCI deciding to run the championship on its own steam.
The FMSCI had announced a four-round series with events in Bangalore, Coorg, Chikmagalur and Ahmednagar. However, the Coorg Rally was cancelled following heavy overnight rains as also the Rally of Maharashtra that was originally scheduled to be held this month due to failure to secure necessary permissions.
Subsequently, the FMSCI announced that the Rally of Maharashtra would be run in Nashik as in the past and on tarmac surface "due to force majeure" as against dirt terrain in Ahmednagar, on January 4-6.
With the previous two rounds in Bangalore and Chikmagalur run on dirt surface, the switch to tarmac demanded drastic changes in the set-up of the Rally cars, including change of tyres (from dirt to tarmac) and suspensions, that entailed additional costs on the competitors.
Besides the paucity of rounds, the INRC also suffered in the absence of the powerful Group N+ spec cars due to changes in regulations that scrapped the class while introducing Group A category (four-wheel drive) which attracted just one entrant
A piqued MRF Tyres that had invested heavily in running a four-car team in the N+ category, pulled out of INRC, though their re-entry in the INRC next year cannot be ruled out.
The restructuring of the INRC also saw only Group N (stock) cars that hardly set the pulse racing as few competitors, if at all any, were willing to push fearing damage to the vehicles while the ever-popular Gypsy class was also consigned to the bin.
Though overall, the INRC did not suffer from want of entries, the series failed to evoke much excitement among the spectators and fans who had witnessed the quicker and noisier modified vehicles in Group N+ category in the previous seasons.