Team MRF clinches title in K-1000 rallyBy Anand Philar, IANS
Sunday, August 23, 2009
BANGALORE - Arjun Balu kept his wits about him to safely negotiate the two-km long Spectator Special Stage and clinch the Overall honours in the Karnataka-1000 Rally, the second round of the Speed-Indian National Rally Championship, here Sunday and led Team MRF to a clean sweep.
Though the 34-year old Coimbatore-based Balu was neither the quickest nor the most spectacular, he nursed the ailing Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia (N+ class) to the finish line (with co-driver Sujith Kumar) to maintain the overnight position at the top of the leaderboard and post his first success in four years.
“I am pleased with my performance though I had to deal with some problems with my Cedia. Today, I decided not to push since I had a good lead overnight, said Balu, the five times National runner-up whose undoubted driving talent and finesse make him one of country’s top Rally drivers.
“For some reason, luck hasn’t been on my side in the past few years. It had nothing to do with my not being on pace. On many occasions, I was within sight of victory only to lose. So, this time around, I was determined to hold my position and once I was in front, I decided to drive sensibly,” he added.
However, Balu appeared visually quicker when he took India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for a lap of the track. Dhoni then presented the trophy to Balu and Sujith Kumar before being whisked away.
In second spot was Gaurav Gill (co-driver Moosa Sherif) who sent the pulses racing with a great drive today and was the quickest of the 36 starters.
The 28-year old from Delhi hurled his Team MRF Cedia around the track with breathtaking aggression and car control, but had to settle for the second spot ahead of team-mate Aroor Arjun Rao (co-driver Satish Rajagopal).
It was much the same in the other categories with the competitors preferring to consolidate their overnight positions as Joseph Jos and Royce K (1600cc), Vikram Devadasen and Nikhil Pai (1400cc), Phalguna Urs and Anoop Kumar (Rally Star Cup), and Sandeep Sharma and Anmol Ramphal (Gypsy) emerged champions.
Provisional, unaudited results:
Overall/2000cc: Arjun Balu/Sujith Kumar (Team MRF, Cedia N+) 1 (1hr, 31mins, 49secs); Gaurav Gill/Moosa Sherif (Team MRF, Cedia N+) 2 (1:34:44); Aroor Arjun Rao/Satish Rajagopal (Team MRF, Cedia N+) 3 (1:36:57).
1600cc (Baleno): Joseph Jos/Royce K 1 (1:39:25); S Sujay/Varun S 2 (1:41:16); Rahul Kanthraj/Vivek Bhatt 3 (1:41:49).
1400cc (MPFI Esteem): Vikram Devadasen/Nikhil Pai (Esteem) 1 (1:40:36); Jos Francis/Manoj M 2 (1:45:21); Samarth Gowda/SM Bharath 3 (1:46:51).
Rally Star Cup (Carbureted Esteem): Phalguna Urs/Anoop Kumar 1 (1:46:33); Balaram CG/Raghuram CG 2 (1:46:48); Harikeshav Nambiar/Ashwin Nadig 3 (1:47:19).
Gypsy: Sandeep Sharma/Anmol Ramphal (Team Thunderbolt) 1 (1:47:14); Khushwant Randhawa/Harminder 2 (1:48:12); Sanjay Agarwal/Chetan Shivram 3 (1:49:22).