KOCHI: With the rest of the field almost a blur behind him, he was driving against himself. Team MRF's Gaurav Gill won the overall honours in the Heera Rally, the opening round of the MAI National championship, by a handsome margin here on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Delhi star, who will be making his Asia Pacific Rally championship debut next month, was nearly one-and-a-half minutes faster than his second-placed teammate Arjun Rao Aroor. Gaurav, who was leading teammate Lohit Urs by 48 seconds overnight, was on his own on the second day as Lohit's engine seized before finish of the day's first stage. That made the competition into a one-horse race as second-placed Arjun Rao Aroor was too far behind.
"I was experimenting today, trying to adopt more of a circuit racing style of driving," said Gaurav as he brought his 2000cc Cedia home with his navigator Moosa Sherif at the Regional Sports Centre here. "I was four to five seconds quicker than yesterday's timings in most of the stages." At his fastest, he was clocked at 177 km per hour.
Topping the 1400cc category was defending champion Girijashankar Joshy and co-driver G.M. Srikanth, whose excellent control over the vehicle and smooth tackling of the corners also saw them finish third overall, and that too in an Esteem as compared to much powerful, Fiestas and Balenos. Abhijit Pai won the Rally Star Cup.
Provisional results (timings after 9 special stages, with a total distance of 112.64 km): Overall: 1. Gaurav Gill/Moosa Sherif (Team MRF, Cedia, 1 hr, 16.44 secs), 2. Arjun Rao Aroor/Satish Kumar (MRF, Baleno, 1:18.06), 3. Girijashankar Joshy/G.M. Srikanth (Esteem, 1:20.40), 4. Bikku Babu/Bonnie Thomas (Esteem, 1:23.10), 5. Amritraj Ghosh/Sourabh Choudhary (Esteem, 1:23.32).
1400cc category: 1. Girijashankar Joshy/G.M. Srikanth (Esteem, 1:20.40), 2. Bikku Babu/Bonnie Thomas (Esteem, 1:23.10), 3. Amritraj Ghosh/Sourabh Choudhary (1:23.32).
Rally Star Cup: 1. Abhijit Pai/Prajal Pai (Esteem, 1:26.39), 2. J. Aravind/S.M. Bharath (Esteem, 1:27.56), 3. Rupesh Kholay/Pragyat (Esteem, 1:31.00).
Gypsy Cup: 1. Surendra Babu/Sheraz Ahmed (1:30.32).