Mahindra Adventure’s Gaurav Gill won his sixth Indian National Rally Championship in Kochi on Sunday.
The three-time APRC champion dominated the rally along with his co-driver Musa Sherif, winning seven stages and finishing second in the Popular Rally, to win the title.
He went into the rally with just a solitary point lead (62 to his teammate Amittrajit Ghosh’s 61) and had to be cautious as he mounted his attack.
He began slowly, finishing second in the first two stages, before he came into his own. Guided by local boy Musa, he quickly got a feel of the terrain and made the necessary adjustments to win the next five stages.
“It was a difficult year for us, especially towards the end due to mechanical issues which were beyond our control,” Gill said after his victory.
“Kochi was the most difficult, with narrow roads which were fast and had broken tarmac too. We had to push extra hard to stay ahead of the others,” he added.
Amittrajit Ghosh, who had jumped into the lead after the first four rounds but had slipped to the second place due to the N-1 rule (the lowest points garnered in a round not being counted for the championship), needed a brilliant run to topple his teammate.
He, along with Ashwin Naik, gave it their best shot but just couldn’t get the wins that would have mattered. It was however good enough to give him the second position in the overall championship.
INRC 2 competitor Arka Motorsports’ Karna Kadur (and Nikhil V Pai) finished third to take the third place behind the Mahindra Adventure duo in the championship.
Kadur, however, had the consolation of winning the INRC 2 title which he had wrapped up in the previous round itself.