Speed’s Rally of Maharashtra starts Friday

Thursday, October 29, 2009

NASHIK - Described variously as challenging and technical, the Speeds Rally of Maharashtra, the fourth round of the 2009 Speed-Indian National Rally Championship, will commence here Friday with the title contenders in the respective classes hoping to pick up valuable points to distance themselves from the pack.

After three rounds of the championship, promoted by IMG Sports and Pro-Sports Promotion, no competitor in any of the five classes - 2000cc (N+), 1600cc, 1400cc, Rally Star Cup and Gypsy Cup - has drawn clear of the field and with just two more, including Rally of Maharashtra, rounds to be run, every point will be worth its weight in gold.

However, the competitors face a stiff task of conquering the twisty but fast route that puts a premium on pace notes and precise calling by the co-driver. Most of the corners are just after a crest. So, the calling has to be spot-on, said Team MRFs Gaurav Gill who heads the leaderboard.

The seasons only all-tarmac rally covers a total distance of 564.66 Kms, including 112.4 Kms of Special Stages. Though the event has only 29 starters, the competition will be as fierce as it has been in the previous three rounds.

Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) leads the pack in the showpiece 2000cc (N+) class with 29 points, ahead of Red Rooster Racings Amittrajit Ghosh (co-driver Ashwin Naik) who has 25. Behind the duo are Team MRF entries, Arjun Balu (co-driver Satish Rajgopal) and Arjun Rao Aroor (co-driver Satish Rajagopal) on 22 and 19 points, respectively.

Gill, the 28-year old from Delhi and the only Indian to score points in the World Rally Championship (production class), won the third round in Kolkata to kick-start his campaign while Ghosh took the honours in Coimbatore (Round 1) and Balu in Bangalore (Round 2).

Way down the 2000 (N+) leaderboard are Red Rooster Racings reigning National champion Vikram Mathias (co-driver PVS Murthy) and Team MRFs Lohitt V Urs who has a new co-driver in Shrikant Gowda. Mathias has just two points to Urs four. The two will be keen to make ground in Speeds Rally of Maharashtra.

The competition is no less in the 1600cc class where Sujay Suresh (co-driver Varun Satyanarayan) heads the table with 37 points from one win (Kolkata) and two second place finishes.

Close on his heels is the experienced Rahul Kanthraj (co-driver Vivek Bhatt) on 26 points, while Joseph Jos (co-driver Royce Kizhakoodan) of Team DDL Sports, who won in Bangalore and Vishal GA (co-drivers Robinson Rajkumar and Rajnikanth A), winner in Coimbatore, are tied on 19.

In the 1400cc class, Francis Jose (co-driver Manoj Menon), who won in Kolkata, leads with 31 points followed by Vikram Devadasen (co-driver Nikhil Pai), the winner in Bangalore, who is on 23. Dr Bikku Babu, champion in Coimbatore, is on 14.

Only six points separate the top three in the Rally Star Cup class with Karna Kadur (co-driver Somonita Ghosh) on 30 following his wins in Coimbatore and Kolkata with Phalguna Urs (co-driver Anoop Kumar), winner in Bangalore, on 29 and Balaram CG (co-driver Raghuram CG) on 24.

In the Gypsy Cup class, Patialas Khushwant Randhawa (co-driver Vinay Shekar) and Sandeep Sharma (co-driver Anmol Ramphal) of Team Thunderbolt from Chandigarh are involved in a head-to-head battle. Randhawa won in Kolkata after finishing second behind Sharma in Coimbatore and Bangalore for a seven-point lead (37-30).

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