Gill in lead in first leg of Coffee Day rally

Saturday, November 21, 2009

CHIKMAGALUR - The 2009 Speed-Indian National Rally Championship leader Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) of Team MRF topped the time charts at the end of the rain-affected first Leg of the Coffee Day Rally of Chikmagalur, the concluding round of the series, here Saturday.

Driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia (N+), Gill, the 28-year old from Delhi, led last years champion Vikram Mathias (co-driver PVS Murthy) of Team Red Rooster Racing by 24 seconds.

Mathias was tied in second place overall with Team MRFs Lohitt V Urs (co-driver Shrikant Gowda) who lost precious seconds behind the slower Cedia of Prithvi Domnic (co-driver Vinod Gowda) following a mix-up in the transport run between the day’s first and second Special Stages.

However, Mathias will be seeking clarification on the timings entered in his road book.

“The timing mentioned in our road book for the Birur Stage is eight minutes, 29 seconds, but later, we were told it was wrong. We will be seeking a clarification on this, said Mathias whose timing for this particular stage in the provisional standings is 9:29.

Gill, who heads the championship table with 31 points, saw his nearest rival and team-mate Arjun Balu (co-driver Sujith Kumar BS) go off the road in the days second Special Stage leading to retirement.

Speaking to IANS, Gill, who failed to finish in the championships opening two rounds, said: The car is good, but we lost about 18 seconds to Lohitt on the days last stage because of some gearbox problems. I eased off fully as I was keen on bringing home the car safely. Hopefully, I will be able to finish the event tomorrow and that is my priority.

A major casualty was Red Roosters Amittrajit Ghosh (co-driver Ashwin Naik) who retired following a crash triggered by a broken brake drum.

Meanwhile, Sujay Suresh (co-driver Varun Satyanarayan), who has a 14-point lead in the 1600 cc class championship, was placed fifth, nearly two minutes behind leader Girijashankar Joshy (co-driver Chandramouli M). In the second spot was Sujays nearest rival Joseph C Jos (co-driver Royce Kizhakoodan) of DDL Sports, followed by Rahul Kanthraj (co-driver Vivek Bhatt).

Championship leader in the 1400 cc class, Vikram Devadasen (co-driver Nikhil Pai) ensured that he stayed in front of his closest challenger, Francis Jose (co-driver Manoj Mohan) of DDL Sports with a steady drive that put him in second place behind Abhijit Pai (co-driver Satvik GA).

In the Rally Star Cup, Balram CG (co-driver Raghuram CG) was in the lead followed by Phalguna Urs (co-driver Anoop Kumar). The two are tied on 36 points in the championship, 10 behind Karna Kadur (co-driver Somonita Ghosh) who today limped home in seventh place.

Sandeep Sharma (co-driver Anmol Rampal) led in the Gypsy Cup class by 46 seconds with Khushwant Randhawa (co-driver Ravindra MS) in second position. Randhawa leads Sharma by three points in the championship.

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