Motorsports can be both cruel and fantastic. Team MRF’s Chris Atkinson got off to a great start in the morning, winning the physically-demanding Stage two (32.13 km) in style but broke the pipe that goes to the coolant in the car in Stage three.
He managed to nurse his car back and finished eighth in that stage. Atkinson was disappointed over languishing in seventh position at the end of the first leg on Saturday.
“It is a shame to be in this position after leading the first two stages. We want to make it up for the lost time in the first leg tomorrow so that eventually we stay in the top of the table,” said Atkinson
His teammate, Gaurav Gill, produced an astonishing drive to be in second position at the end of the day. After some below-par performances initially, the Delhi-based driver roared back to win the third and seventh stages. “We were unlucky to have a puncture and an electrical glitch in alternate stages early on and under these conditions there can be no margin of errors,” said Gill.
“I really pushed hard to increase my lead over McRae, but with the initial momentum Andersson was maintaining his position.
“The next leg will be tough and even worse if it rains and we want to be focussed,” said Gill.
The first day’s honours went to Proton’s Per-Gunnar Andersson, who has a healthy lead 1:22.7 seconds over Gill.
Meanwhile, the sixth stage of the race was cancelled due to slippery conditions.
Earlier on Friday night, Atkinson finished first in the Super Stage one conducted under lights with a timing of 02:04.6 followed by Andersson and Gill.
The results (provisional):
1. Per-Gunnar Andersson (Proton) 1:48:49.9; 2. Gaurav Gill (Team MRF) 1:50:12.6; 3. Alister McRae (Proton) 1:51:04.4; 7. Chris Atkinson (Team MRF) 2:17:08.3.
Keywords: Team MRF