Karna Kadur and co-driver Nikhil Pai (Arka Motorsports) overcame teething issues to head the overall standings at the end of leg-1 in the MRF 45th South India Rally, the first round of the Blue Band Sports FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship 2022.
The day also saw the early exit of seven times National champion Gaurav Gill (Musa Sherif) due to a mechanical problem.
Going into the overnight parc ferme, Kadur, winner of the Asia Cup round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship at the same venue last month, led Dean Mascarenhas (co-driver Gangan Karumbaiah) by a mere 2.9 seconds.
The two leaders were followed by Chettinad Sporting’s 2021 National champion Aditya Thakur (Virender Kashyap) and Fabid Ahmer (Sanath G) in the provisional overall classification.
With five more Stages to be run on Sunday, just 17.6 seconds separates the top four contenders, pointing to a thrilling finish.
After Gill’s retirement in the day’s second Stage, it was essentially a four-way battle for top honours, involving Kadur, Mascarenhas, Thakur and Ahmer. As the day progressed, Kadur and Mascarenhas stepped up the pace to pull away from the others. Kadur won three of the five Stages while Mascarenhas topped the other two.
Provisional classification (Leg-1): Overall & INRC: 1. Karna Kadur & Nikhil Pai (Arka Motorsports) (54mins, 40.700secs); 2. Dean Mascarenhas & Gagan Karumbaiah (54:43.600); 3. Aditya Thakur & Virender Kashyap (Chettinad Sporting) (54:53.400).
INRC-2: 1. Mascarenhas & Karumbaiah (54:43.600); 2. Thakur & Kashyap (54:53.400); 3. Fabid Ahmer & Sanath G (54:58.300).
INRC-3: 1. Jahaan Singh Gill & Suraj Keshava Prasad (SNAP Racing) (56:07.800); 2. Kuber Sharma & Kunal Kashyap (56:57.800); 3. Daraius Neville Shroff & Arjun Dheerendra (Slideways Industries) (57:05.300).
INRC-4: 1. Prakhyat Shirole & S. Supreet (59:32.700); 2. Yeshwanth Padala & S.M. Bharath (01:01:08.900); 3. Deepak Chandra / G.M. Manjunath (01:02:11.000).
Junior INRC: 1. Jahaan Singh Gill & Suraj Keshava Prasad (56:07.800); 2. Shroff & Arjun Dheerendra (57:05.300); 3. Arnav Pratap Singh & Arjun SSB (SNAP Racing) (57:29.500).
Fmsci Gypsy Cup: 1. Himamshu Arora & Vikram Thakur (01:01:49.300); 2. Sanjay Razdan & Karan Aukta (01:02:42.900); 3. Darshan Nachappa & S Dinesh (Ammyfield Rallying) (01:03:00.500).