Gaurav Gill back for Indian National Rally Championship

ITANAGAR, Dec 21: Three-time APRC champion Gaurav Gill will hope to reassert his supremacy as Round 5 of the MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship, the Rally of Arunachal, got underway here on Thursday with the racers headed for Ziro in Lower Subansiri district.
Gill, who missed Round 4 of the INRC in Chikmagalur as it was held simultaneously with the APRC, is still ahead with 50 points after winning the rounds in Coimbatore and Jaipur. But INRC 3 leader Dean Mascarenhas and defending champion Karna Kadur are snapping at his heels with 45 and 43 points.
Gill will have to be at his fiercest best in Ziro, which will be making its debut as host in the picturesque backdrop of majestic hills, as he sets his eyes on his fifth title in the INRC.
“We welcome Arunachal Pradesh into the INRC fold,” Arindam Ghosh, Director of RRPM and promoter of the MRF FMSCI INRC 2017, said at a press interaction just after the ceremonial start.
“This is a wonderful backdrop for rallying and I am sure all the participants are going to enjoy driving here,” he added.
“It’s a big step for us to host the Rally of Arunachal,” Lhakpa Tsering of the Motorsports Club of Arunachal said.
“Motorsports is fast becoming a very popular sport in the Northeast and this is a good boost for all the young enthusiasts,” he added.
Team Mahindra Adventure driver, Gill, will be accompanied by his long-time navigator Musa Sherif as they grapple with the 149.70-kilometre distance, including 72 in special stages and 77.70 in liaison.
Dean Mascarenhas and co-driver Shruptha Padival have been consistent through the season, taking the fourth, second and third positions in the earlier rounds of the INRC. In their own class, the INRC 3, the pair has been unbeatable, winning all the three rounds for a solid 75 points.
Second-placed Saddam Shaikh is way behind with 36 points to pose any sort of a real challenge.
ARKA motorsports’ Karna and Nikhil Pai are back in the fray, despite a non-finish in Round 3, the Rally of Jaipur. They clinched the top position in Round 4, the Rally of Chikmagalur, in the absence of Gill and will hope to push the champion to the edge.
Karna yielded his pre-eminent position in the INRC 2 class to Rahul Kanthraj and Vivek Y Bhatt, who have managed a 2, 1, 2 finish so far. He is fourth in the INRC standings with 37 points.
Gill’s teammate in Mahindra Adventure, Amittrajit Ghosh, will rue the missed opportunity in the Rally of Chikmagalur. He was in the game with a third place and a fifth-place finish in the initial two rounds. But in Round 4, his car let him down even as he was leading the pack, forcing him to return empty-handed.
Current standings:
INRC :1. Gaurav Gill (50 points);
2. Dean Mascarenhas (45); 3. Karna Kadur (43)
INRC 2: 1. Rahul Kanthraj (61 points); 2. Karna Kadur (50); 3. Younus Ilyas (33)
INRC 3: 1. Dean Mascarenhas (75 points); 2. Saddam Ali Shaikh (36); 3. Daraius N Shroff (33)