Durgapur: Gaurav Gill of Team MRF and
co-driver Musa Sherif took the day one honours in the Speed
Rally de Kolkata, the third round of the 2009 Speed-Indian
National Rally Championship here today.
Driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia in the 2000cc N+
category, Gill topped the overall leaderboard at the end of
leg-1, which consisted of six special stages.
Gill`s arch-rival and defending national champion Vikram
Mathias of Red Rooster Racing, also in a Cedia, retired and so
did two other MRF entries in this showpiece class - Arjun Balu
(co-driver Sujith Kumar) and Arjun Rao Aroor (co-driver Satish
It left Red Rooster`s Amittrajit Ghosh (co-driver Ashwin
Naik), winner of the round one in Coimbatore, trailing Gill by
28 seconds, but ahead of MRFs Lohitt Urs (co-driver M
Chandramouli) by 27 seconds.
Local lad Ghosh showed controlled aggression and did not
go all out with an eye on the championship points.
"Last year, I just had to finish the last rally and a
second place would have given me the national championship.
But I had a DNF and lost everything. So this year I am wise
and careful," Ghosh said.
"Tomorrow, it is a question of holding positions. After
we failed to finish in K-1000, I am determined to finish the
event here, even if it means settling for a second position,"
While the top guns fell out owing to off-road excursions,
the day ended on a bitter note, especially for Red Rooster
after Mathias, powering down a high-speed left-hander, slammed
into Balu`s stricken car that had gone off the road.
Although Mathias continued, he went off in the very next
Down the grid, the competition was fairly intense in the
1600cc class (Maruti Baleno) until early leader Joseph Jos
(co-driver Royce Kizhikoodan), of DDL Sports and winner in
Bangalore, retired on the penultimate stage as S Sujay
(co-driver Varun S) took over to lead Girijashankar Joshy
(co-driver Srikant Gowda) by 17 seconds. In third spot was
Rahul Kanthraj (co-driver Vivek Bhatt).