A drama-packed Rally of Coimbatore saw several frontrunners like Gaurav Gill and Amittrajit Ghosh retire.
Chettinadu Sporting’s Aditya Thakur and co-driver Virender Kashyap scored a surprise win at the Rally of Coimbatore, as the 2021 Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) finally got underway after several delays.
The tricky opening round of the 2021 championship saw several frontrunners, including Gaurav Gill and Amittrajit Ghosh drop out. In a major departure, the event was not held at the iconic windmill farms in Kethanu and was moved to a fresh location just off the L&T bypass road, with much smoother terrain.
- Thakur claims first INRC victory
- Fabid Ahmer, Mujeeb Rehman win in INRC-2 and INRC-3
- MS Prince disqualified for infringement
Trouble for Gill
Gill’s bid for victory ended rather early when his rally-spec Mahindra XUV300 suffered an electrical issue on SS2. The seven-time INRC champion and Arjuna awardee was leading by nearly 49 seconds when the incident occurred. He was able to rejoin under the Super Rally format to secure points in individual legs, but retired for a second time on the final day.
He wasn’t alone, as some of the biggest names in rallying retired from the event too. Amittrajit Ghosh, Karna Kadur and Dean Mascarenhas all dropped out due to issues with their vehicles.
Thakur’s dream win
All this paved the way for Thakur, a farmer from Himachal Pradesh, to score his maiden INRC win since making his debut in 2018. Along with taking overall victory, Thakur also took top honours in the INRC-3 category that he was competing in.
“I am absolutely delighted with my maiden win in the National championship,” said Thakur, who won behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Polo. “We made a small mistake yesterday [on Saturday], which put us in second position overnight. Today, I decided to just go for it and did not back off, though I was a bit careful.”
He added, “Also, Chettinad Sporting built this car like a tank. So, I was able to push. A big thanks also to Sanjay Sikand [ex-rally driver], whose birthday it is today, for nurturing my skills from when I was eight years old. My family and friends who pooled in some money to help me take part in the championship were of a great support.”
Fabid Ahmer wins INRC-2
Fabid Ahmer and co-driver G Sanath clocked some of the fastest times on the final day to win in the INRC-2 category and finish second overall. MS Prince and Vinay Padmashali finished second in INRC-2, but were later disqualified since their Polo racer wasn’t present for the post-event scrutiny. This promoted Sahil Khanna and co-driver KN Harish to third place overall and second in INRC-2.
Mujeeb Rehman (co-driver Ravindra Kumar) took victory in the INRC-4 category, while Raghuram Saminathan (co-driver Bharath Sargur) and Rupender Sheoran (co-driver Mohit Malik) won in Junior INRC and the FMSCI Gypsy Challenge
2021 Indian National Rally Championship
The 2021 INRC has spilled over into 2022 due to several COVID-19 related delays. As a result, the championship has been shortened to just three rounds, with MRF coming onboard as an associate sponsor. But there was no shortage of excitement, as the Rally of Coimbatore saw a record 57 entries.
The next two rounds will be the Karnataka-1000 rally in Bengaluru between March 11-13 and the South India Rally in Chennai between March 25-27.