Chetan Shivram and Bikku Babu took advantage of the pull-outs by most of the heavyweights to stage a dramatic comeback for MRF in the Champions Yacht Club FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship here on Sunday.
The speedy but shrewd duo made it a spectacular 1-2 for the Reds as the carefully laid out but treacherous stages wiped out anybody who dared to challenge them. Starting from the fifth and fourth positions, Shivram and Babu preserved their cars before going all out in the final stage to claim the mantle of winner and runner-up in the K-1000 Rally.
Defending champion and overnight leader Gaurav Gill was among the biggest casualties as he cried out in the morning itself, with his car refusing to even start after the belting it had received on Day 1. He and all his favoured JK Tyre Motorsport teammates bit the dust, allowing a free run to the MRF men.
Akshara's Chetan Shivram, who had won Round 2 as well in almost similar fashion, emerged as the overall INRC Championship leader with this victory. He (with Dilip Sharan as co-driver) claimed his own category too, the INRC 3, with an overall timing of 1:47:37:300 hours.
That was just 12 seconds faster than Bikku Babu (with Milen George) of Team Champions, who pursued him relentlessly all through the day. Babu finished ahead of Sriram in the day's first stage, SS5, and even beat him to the post in the last one, SS8, but that wasn't good enough to topple the latter. It, however, fetched him the INRC 2 trophy.
"The top guns may not have fired today but we couldn't have hoped for a more thrilling finish. It was good to see so many of the INRC 2 and 3 teams making a mark here, ahead of the known champions," Hema Malini Nidamanuri, co-promoter of the INRC, said.
After the shock exit of Gaurav Gill, order seemed to have been restored, with another JK favourite, Dean Mascarenhas, winning SS5. But he promptly fell at the next stage, leaving the field for Championship leader Fabid Ahmer. But the MRF driver, who was nursing his car carefully, suffered a puncture in the next and tumbled out.
In the SUV Challenge, Gagan Karumbaiah of Team Champions took the first place to all but seal the 2019 title.
CYC FMSCI INRC, Round 4 Provisional Results:
1) Chetan Shivram/Dilip Sharan (Akshara) - 1:47:37:300 hr; 2) Bikku Babu/Milen George (Team Champions) - 1:47:49.900 hr; 3) Amittrajit Ghosh/Ashwin Naik (Mahindra Adventure) - 1:51:04.300 hr
1) Babu/Milen George (Team Champions) - 1:47:49.900 hr; 2) Sahil Khanna/Rajit Kadian (Snap Racing) - 1:52:00.200 hr; 3) Younus Ilyas/Harish Gowda - 04:50:24.200 hr
1) Chetan Shivram/Dilip Sharan (Akshara) - 1:47:37:300 hr; 2) Jacob K.J/Murthy PVS (Arka Motorsports) - 1:53:35.600 hr; 3) Pradeep Kumar/Ahammad Ansary (Pipe & Pipe) - 2:19:58.000 hr
1) Mujeeb Rahman/Gautham CP (Privateer)- 1:55:17.900 hr; 2) Shirole Prakhyat .H/Bharat S.M (Privateer)- 1:57.16.300 hr; 3) Satish Peddineni/Vinay Kumar P. M (Team Champions) - 2:33:19.500 hr.
( 508 Words)