Team MRF poised for clean sweepBy Anand Philar, IANS
Friday, August 21, 2009
BANGALORE - Team MRF were poised for a 1-2-3 finish in the Karnataka-1000, the second round of the Speed-Indian National Rally Championship at the end of Leg1, here Friday.
Topping the time charts was 34-year old Arjun Balu (co-driver Sujith Kumar), who put in a very sensible drive in a Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia (N+ class) for a timing of 42 minutes, 04 seconds.
In the overall second place was Gaurav Gill (co-driver Moosa Sherif), also in a Cedia with a timing of 44:59 and undoubtedly the quickest driver. He was comfortably ahead until he suffered a puncture on the day’s last Special Stage that cost him about three minutes and dragged him down to third spot.
However, Gill moved up a spot when team-mate Aroor Arjun Rao (co-driver Satish Rajagopal), running second after the day’s six Special Stages, took a road penalty of three minutes and was docked 30 seconds that pushed him to third Overall.
The Coimbatore-based Balu, national runner-up on five occasions, was obviously pleased with his performance Friday.
“The car handled well unlike in Coimbatore when I finished Overall seventh. I drove sensibly today and my pace was good. As I have a good lead tonight, I will not take undue risks on the morrow and try to maintain my position,” said Balu.
While MRF took the day’s honours, their arch-rivals Red Rooster Racing suffered with both their entries, National champion Vikram Mathias (co-driver PVS Murthy) and Amittrajit Ghosh (co-driver Ashwin Naik), winner of the first round in Coimbatore, packed up due to mechanical problems besides punctures. The duo, however, will run the second leg under the Super Rally format, if only for points.
Meanwhile, in the 1600cc class, Joseph C. (co-driver Royce) led the field with 47:11.
Behind him, there was a stiff competition with Sujay S (co-driver Varun S) in second place with 48:06, just four seconds ahead of Philippos Mathai (co-driver Chandrasekar M.) who in turn has a mere seven seconds to spare to fourth placed Yogeshwar Gill (co-driver Sajan Preet).
The positions could yet change as veteran Rahul Kanthraj (co-driver Vivek Bhatt) is lurking in fifth spot with 48:20. With another six Special Stages to be run Saturday, the class honours are still wide open.
Vikram Devadasen (co-driver Nikhil Pai) led the 1400cc class while Karna Kadur (co-driver Somolitha Ghosh), and Sandeep Sharma (co-driver Anmol Rampal) of Team Thunderbolt were leading in the Rally Star Cup and Gypsy classes, respectively.
Provisional, unaudited results after Leg 1:
Overall/2000cc: Arjun Balu/Sujith Kumar (Team MRF, Cedia N+) 1 (42mins, 04secs); Gaurav Gill/Moosa Sherif (Team MRF, Cedia N+) 2 (44:59); Aroor Arjun Rao/Satish Rajagopal (Team MRF, Cedia N+) 3 (45:05).
1600cc (Baleno): Joseph C/Royce 1 (47:11); Sujay/Bharath 2 (48:06); Philippos Mathai/Chandrasekar 3 (48:10).
1400cc (Esteem): Vikram Devadasen/Nikhil Pai 1 (46:39); Shailendra Hegde/Sheraz Ahmed 2 (47:24); Deepak Paul Chinnappa/Srikarunya 3 (47:51).
Rally Star Cup (Carbureted Esteem): Karna Kadur/Somolitha Ghosh 1 (48:29); Phalguna Urs/Anoop Kumar 2 (49:01); Raghuram CG/Balram CG 3 (50:31).
Gypsy: Sandeep Sharma/Anmol Rampal 1 (50:27); Anil Wadia/Prajwal Pai 2 (51:07); Shafeeq-ur Rehman/Naveen YG 3 (52:51).