Balu poised to win national rally titleBy Anand Philar, IANS
Saturday, August 22, 2009
BANGALORE - Arjun Balu and co-driver Sujith Kumar of Team MRF, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia (N+), were poised to claim their first Overall title in four years, finishing Leg 2 with a lead of over three minutes on the penultimate day of the Karnataka-1000 Rally, the second round of the Speed-Indian National Rally Championship here Saturday.
With just the Spectator Special Stage of two kms to be run sunday, Balu’s victory is all but confirmed with team-mate Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif), also in a Cedia, in second place, followed by another MRF entry, Aroor Arjun Rao (co-driver Satish Rajagopal).
Overnight rains rendered the Special Stages slushy and to an extent treacherous with several sections being water-logged. However, there was no lack of competition, especially in the lower classes where several private entries delivered standout performances.
Balu survived some anxious moments with his Cedia suffering some mechanical problems. “Our main focus today was to nurse the car to the finish. The gearbox was crunching and the engine was throwing up oil. So, I was willing to give up time since we had a good lead,” said Balu whose last win was in 2005 at Mysore.
Notable among these privateers was Kerala’s Joseph Jos (co-driver Royce K) of Team DDL Sports, who consolidated his overnight position to finish the day with a comfortable lead of over two minutes over S. Sujay (co-driver Varun S) and the seasoned Rahul Kanthraj (co-driver Vivek Bhatt) who in turn are separated by just nine seconds before the official audit in the 1600cc class.
Jos, the 30-year old businessman from Kochi, driving a Baleno put in some quick times on both days before easing off today in view of the wet going. “We did not want to take any risks today as we had a comfortable lead, said Jos.
Another fine performance came from 25-year old Phalguna Urs (co-driver Anoop Kumar) from Mysore, who in only in his first full season, took a critical lead of over 10 seconds to head the Rally Star Cup class.
“We kept it clean today as we wanted to maintain our position,” said Urs who moved to the front at the fag end of Leg 1 yesterday when leader Karna Kadur lost time.
Meanwhile, in the Gypsy class, Sandeep Sharma (co-driver Anmol Ramphal) of Team Thunderbolt enjoyed a two-minute lead over his nearest rival to virtually assure himself of the title in his category.
Provisional, unaudited results after Leg 2:
Overall/2000cc: Arjun Balu/Sujith Kumar (Team MRF, Cedia N+) 1 (1hr, 29mins, 36secs); Gaurav Gill/Moosa Sherif (Team MRF, Cedia N+) 2 (1:32:37); Aroor Arjun Rao/Satish Rajagopal (Team MRF, Cedia N+) 3 (1:34:16).
1600cc (Baleno): Joseph Jos/Royce K 1 (1:37:17); S Sujay/Varun S 2 (1:39:21); Rahul Kanthraj/Vivek Bhatt 3 (1:39:30).
1400cc (MPFI Esteem): Vikram Devadasen/Nikhil Pai (Esteem) 1 (1:38:01); Jos Francis/Manoj M 2 (1:42:59); Samarth Gowda/SM Bharath 3 (1:44:33).
Rally Star Cup (Carbureted Esteem): Phalguna Urs/Anoop Kumar 1 (1:44:11); Elias Thomas Paarel/George 2 (1:44:21); Balaram CG/Raghuram CG 3 (1:44:23).
Gypsy: Sandeep Sharma/Anmol Ramphal (Team Thunderbolt) 1 (1:44:54); Khushwant Randhawa/Harminder 2 (1:46:54); Sanjay Agarwal/Chetan Shivram 3 (1:47:01).