Top action likely in South India Rally

Chennai, March 22 (IANS) With the Special Stages widened and a few corners straightened, there is promise of exciting action in the AVT Premium South India Rally, the first round of 2013 FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship to be run here over the weekend.

The Rally terrain received the thumbs up from country’s top drivers following a reconnaissance run Friday ahead of the two-day event beginning Saturday that will see many firsts, not the least the debut of turbo-charged, all-wheel drive Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
Another first is the participation of team Mahindra who are fielding three of their top-end XUV500 in the newly-created SUV category while Volkswagen will also be making marking their presence in the form of the popular Polo with three of the hatch-backs in a 35-vehicle grid.
The Evo, prepared by Bangalore’s Racetech, will be driven by Samir Thapar of JCT Rallying with seasoned Vivek Ponnusamy, the 2012 APRC co-driver champion, on the left seat.
As many as nine makes of cars will be seen in action and they include: the Evo X, Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia, Volkswagen Polo, Mahindra XUV 500, Maruti Esteem, Maruti Gypsy, Maruti Baleno, Maruti SX4 and Honda City.
Reigning National champion Amittrajit Ghosh (co-driver Ashwin Naik), who will be driving a Mitsubishi Cedia (Group N) and 2011 champion Gaurav Gill (Musa Sherif), in a XUV 500 were unanimous in their praise of the terrain that they described as smooth and fast.
“I quite liked the stages which are quite smooth and fast with a few tight sections. We have prepared well for the event and hope to start the new season on a strong note,” said the Kolkata-based Ghosh at a media conference here Friday.
Delhi’s Gill, having missed the 2012 INRC season, looked forward to a good run, though it would be a first for him driving a SUV in the National championship.
“It is great that Mahindra have decided to enter the INRC. I think it is also the first time that we will have a diesel engine powered vehicle in the championship. Although the XUV 500 is big, it is quite quick and we will be competitive,” said Gill, who is one of the top guns in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
Meanwhile, Mangalore collegian Dean Mascarenhas (Shruptha Padival), hopes to make a strong debut in the 2000cc class driving a Cedia, after some fine performances in the junior categories.
The total rally distance is about 300 km of which 117.7 km will be the competitive section, comprising three dirt track Special Stages that will be run thrice and the Spectator Special Stage of 3.2 km which will be run twice at the Madras Motor Race Track in Irungattukottai.
The Special Stages are located on the 700-acre Avisa Golf complex (17 km), the IVRCL premises (11 km) and the MMRT (9 km).