It was champagne showers for Byram Godrej (co-driver Prajwal Pai) and Arjun Rao (Satish Rajagopal) in the INRC 1,600cc class in the Rally of Coimbatore, the third leg of the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC), which concluded at the KMS circuit here on Sunday.
The top three finishers in the SUVNRC class celebrated as well but technical compliance issues in their cars crashed their dreams early with the stewards serving an exclusion notice for both Byram and Arjun and stripping the points of the SUVNRC drivers. “It was purely lack of communication. The whole class is new to everybody. But, I must tell you we have done nothing illegal. Also, we do not have to prove to anybody what we are made up of,” said APRC star Gaurav Gill, who finished on top among the SUVNRC drivers. “We did the post scrutiny on Sunday and we found that certain specifications were not met by certain cars.
“There were variations compared to the data in homologation. So, we have informed the stewards and it is for them to take a decision,” said K. Krishnamurthy, Chairman, Technical Committee of FMSCI and Technical delegate for the Coimbatore round.
“This is the first time that they are running these vehicles. They are new to the process of homologation. They were not aware that they had given a wrong data. It did not look intentional. We got a message from the newcomers that they will correct it.”
He said anybody can make a mistake. “Accept it and find a solution to correct it. It is common, after all everybody is a novice at one point of time. Only after some period the maturity takes place,” he added.
In the INRC 1,600 class, the gearboxes of two Volkswagen cars (VW Polo) were found not complying with the specifications mentioned in the homologation submitted earlier by the manufacturers. The SUVs had the hitch with the turbo charge restrictors.
“As per regulation, a restrictor cannot measure more than 35mm but it was found a little more in this case,” said Zayn Khan, the steward of the meet. “Technical non-conformity leads to exclusion. By excluding them nobody stands to gain as there were only three cars. I believe in a panel and it was decided to strip the three cars of the points for the Coimbatore round. The trophies and the prize money remain with them,” he added.
“We heard the (SUVNRC) drivers and we told them what the technical committee had to say and if there was anything in defence. They did explain their point. Both the affected VW competitors were also heard. But we excluded them because there were other drivers. But there is an Intent to Appeal and one of them (Byram Godrej) had appealed the decision,” said Harshit Merchant, INRC’s chief steward. There was much hue and cry with regard to the exclusion of the two VW cars when there were others of the same make running in the other categories (IRC & JINRC) as well. The hard fact is the post scrutiny was done in random as it is always the case.
“The matter is under investigation at the moment. There has been technical infringements and drivers excluded. The other cars in question are also under scrutiny. It can be a genuine error but we will look into the matter. We may need a couple of days before we arrive at a decision,” said Vicky Chandhok, FMSCI President.
He added the Federation does not shield anybody. VW has a tremendous reputation. They could have technically erred. I believe VW has erred in the submission of data. So if that be the case there’s no option but to face the penalty.”