Sports Reporter

Coimbatore: Five-time National rally champion, V.R. Naren Kumar, is just a step away from realising his dream of driving in the World Rally Championship. The 31-year-old from Coimbatore has an offer from Fiat Abarth (Italy) to drive for their works team in the 2006 European championship as well as the 2007 World Series.

Talking to The Hindu, Naren says, "if all goes well I will be driving the Fiat Grand Punto Super 2000 in the European championship. It's a winning car! It has already won the first round of the Italian national championship ahead of Subaru and Mitsubishi. As a driver, I have beaten world champions before. So, I don't see any reason why I will not be a force to reckon with in the WRC series."

Naren is happy with the offer but roping in sponsors is his worry. "It will be a great opportunity for the Indian companies to have their branding on one of the top rally teams in the world. There's a lot of mileage with an audience coverage of 88 million."

The European championship has already begun with the opening rally held at the 1000 Migilia in Bresica in Italy last week. But for Naren, the championship debut on a S2000 is most likely to happen at the Rally of Turkey from May 12 to 14. "I am keeping my fingers crossed for the Turkey leg, but I am quite confident of taking part in the third round in Poland," says Naren.

Experience

Naren, who has a vast experience driving the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7, Suzuki Baleno and Honda Civic, says the European championship will be the preparation for the world championship.

`'I will be driving in both the INRC and the European series because none of the events clash with each other," says Naren, who will be gunning for his sixth National title driving for Team JK Tyre.

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