Aroor Arjun Rao ahead in APRC-Asia Cup; Aditya Thakur leads South India Rally

Chennai, March 16 (IANS) The Himachal pair of Aditya Thakur and co-driver Virender Kashyap gave themselves the best possible start for the 2024 season with a near-flawless drive to lead the timesheets in the 47th MMSC South India Rally, a round of the FIA APRC-Asia Cup and the Fmsci Indian National Rally Championship near here on Saturday.

Meanwhile, in the Asia Cup, Mangaluru’s Aroor Arjun Rao along with Bengaluru-based co-driver Satish Rajagopal shrugged off a launch control issue with their Mandovi Racing’s Maruti Baleno to snatch a four-second lead over Delhi’s Harkrishan Wadia (co-driver Kunal Kashyap, Himachal) while the Bengaluru tandem of Pragathi Gowda and co-driver Trisha Alonkar, in a 4-wheel Drive Subaru Impreza were placed third.

The South India Rally concludes on Sunday when five more Stages will be run.

Winning four of the day’s six Stages, Thakur piloted his Chettinad Sporting-prepared Volkswagen Polo with aplomb to take a handy 9.2 seconds lead over overnight leader Dean Mascarenhas (co-driver Gagan Karumbaiah), who had to deal with a misfiring engine through the day. Incidentally, Thakur also leads in the INRC 2 category.

Bengaluru’s Arjun Rajiv (co-driver Vinay Padmashali, Mysuru) of Chettinad Sporting consolidated his overnight lead in the INRC and Junior INRC categories, as did Dehradun’s Anushriya Gulati (co-driver Karan Aukta) of Arka Motorsports in the Women INRC class.

“I had issues with the launch control and was losing precious seconds at the start itself. Not much we can do about it right now since it is an electrical issue. I guess, I have to push really hard tomorrow to make up for the time lost at the start,” said Aroor.

A beaming Thakur said: “After winning the National title in 2022, I had a very bad 2023 season when I was struggling to even finish a Rally. But I put in a lot of hard work during the pre-season to get to where I am today. I think, the tyre choice really helped me today, opting for the correct compound. The MRF tyres worked really well and overall, I barely made a mistake today.” said Thakur.

For Karna Kadur (Arka Motorsports) who was among the title favourites, it was yet another disappointing run leading to retirement due to gearbox issues. A puncture in the day’s second Stage, besides gear stuck in the fourth, cost him more time. “I am not sure if I can rejoin the Rally tomorrow since it depends on whether we will be able to fix the issue tonight,” said Kadur.

Pragathi Gowda survived a close call on the day’s last Stage when she ignored a call by her co-driver Trisha Alonkar just after the start and slammed into a gate. “I made a mistake in not listening to Trisha’s call. I reversed and continued, but it cost me time. But otherwise, I am getting comfortable with the Subaru and improving my pace with each outing. Yes, I made 28 seconds on my own time during the second run of the AAVISA Stage. My learning continues.”

Partial classification (after Leg-1):

FIA APRC-Asia Rally Cup: 1. Aroor Arjun Rao (Mangaluru) / Satish Rajagopal (Bengaluru) (Mandovi Racing) (01hr, 09mins, 39.8secs); 2. Harkrishan Wadia (Delhi) / Kunal Kashyap (Himachal) (Arka Motorsports) (01:09:53.5); 3. Pragathi Gowda / Trisha Alonkar (both Bengaluru) (Pvt.) (01:10:01.2).

Fmsci Indian National Rally Championship:

Overall: 1. Aditya Thakur / Virender Kashyap (both Himachal) (Chettinad Sporting) (01:08:46.0); 2. Dean Mascarenhas (Mangaluru) / Gagan Karumbaiah (Kodagu) (DB Motorsports) (01:09:24.5); 3. Aroor Arjun Rao / Satish Rajagopal (01:09:39.8).

INRC 2: 1. Aditya Thakur / Virender Kashyap (01:08:46.0); 2. Philippos Matthai (Delhi) / PV Srinivasa Murthy (Bengaluru) (Arka Motorsports) (01:09:49.0); 3. Aroor Vikram Rao (Mangaluru)/ AG Somayya (Kodagu) (Pvt.) (01:09:52.8).

INRC 3: 1. Arjun Rajiv (Bengaluru) / Vinay Padmashali (Mysuru) (Chettinad Sporting) (01:10:41.2); 2. Vishak Balachandran (Thiruvananthapuram) /Anil Abbas (Ernakulam) (Chettinad Sporting) (01:11:36.8); 3. Arnav Pratap Singh (Delhi) / Rohit N (Bengaluru) (SNAP Racing) (01:12:03.5).

Junior INRC: 1. Arjun Rajiv (Bengaluru) / Vinay Padmashali (Mysuru) (Chettinad Sporting) (01:10:41.2); 2. Arnav Pratap Singh (Delhi) / Rohit N (Bengaluru) (SNAP Racing) (01:12:03.5); 3. Ajay Shankar (Kollam) / S Nitharshan (Kallakurichi) (Mandovi Racing) (01:13:45.9).

Women INRC: 1. Anushriya Gulati (Dehradun) / Karan Aukta (Himachal) (Arka Motorsports) (01:02:36.1); 2. Phoebe Nongrum (Shillong) / Ross Nash (Hyderabad) (SNAP Racing) (01:07:42.7).

Fmsci Gypsy Challenge: 1. Sanjay Agarwal / Dheeraj Manae (both Bengaluru) (Pvt.) (01:05:44.5); 2. Baljinder Singh Dhillon / Goutham CP (Pvt.) (01:06:10.4); 3. Jayanth Somanathan / R Rajashekar (both Bengaluru) (Pvt.) (01:06:49.8).



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