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Updated: January 29, 2011 01:35 IST

Naren-Ram combo wrests title

Principal Correspondent
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On come-back trail: Naren Kumar's success at the Indian National Rally championship was the seventh title in his career. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan
On come-back trail: Naren Kumar's success at the Indian National Rally championship was the seventh title in his career. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

Red Rooster Racing's V.R. Naren Kumar (co-driver D. Ram Kumar) came back strongly from a four-year break to wrest the overall title in the Speed-Indian National Rally Championship 2010.

It was title No. 7 for the Coimbatore driver. “Am definitely pleased,” said Naren in an exclusive chat with The Hindu.

“It was a very enjoyable experience right through the year. Also fabulous to know that it was a record of sorts,” he added.

The 36-year-old said he had almost called it quits after the PWRC in 2008. “I am ready enough to accept that I was done with my rallying career. I was 16 years into it and I was beginning to enjoy myself at my engineering company. Also, I had lots of free time for my hobbies.”

But there were two things that forced him to rethink. “I agreed to drive for the Red Roosters because there were quite a few friends here. Also, the team helped me at a time when I was in need. They sponsored my Asia Pacific commitments. And, I just wanted to return the favour,” said Naren, the first Indian rally driver to go international.

Naren rated the championship win pretty high. “Though not at my best, I would still rate it high because of the stiff competition. Gaurav Gill (Team MRF) was at the peak of his career. There were quite a few others too. So, it definitely feels good to win.”

Driving hard

He said rallying is all about driving hard. “It's also about taking risks to catch a few seconds. I, probably, was not aggressive. Also, I did not take the chances because most of the drivers have been there for the last six years. I relied on my rich experience to fend off big attacks.”

He was very pleased with the team and the car (Mitsubishi Cedia). “There was a big difference compared to my last championship win in 2006. The car was a lot more enjoyable to drive. To be frank, I finally felt I was in a rally car as it had the power and the speed.”

Naren said there were no big plans for the INRC. “I made sure that I was available for the events and nothing more. After the opener at Nashik, we were trailing. It was then that we decided to break open. And, it clicked, both in Coimbatore and Jodhpur. And, after three rallies, we were well within control.”

Ram happy

Co-driver Ram was happy as well. “It was a very good performance considering the fact that we were coming back after a long break. We had the pace and were able to match everybody.”

He said the first race was a bit tough. “But we were on a roll after that.”

Is Naren hungry for more? “I have not even given it a thought. There are lots of things happening in my business and lots more that surround my decisions. I don't know how much my mind will be in it. If I had a good programme for rallying abroad then it will help me in taking a decision. I know I have the ability to be among the best in the world. Whether I have the commitment and the energy to last long, I cannot answer at the moment.”

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