South India Rally: Triple delight for Harkrishan Wadia and Kunal Kashyap

Delhi’s Harkrishan Wadia (co-driver Kunal Kashyap, Himachal) of Arka Motorsports emerged champion in the 47th MMSC South India Rally

Chennai, March 17 (IANS) On a day of drama, Delhi’s Harkrishan Wadia (co-driver Kunal Kashyap, Himachal) of Arka Motorsports emerged champion in the 47th MMSC South India Rally, here on Sunday even as several leading title contenders retired due to various issues with their vehicles.

Wadia not only topped the round of the AVT Gold Cup FIA APRC-Asia Cup but also the season-opener of the Blueband Fmsci Indian National Rally Championship 2024 besides taking the P1 spot in the INRC 2 category for a triple crown.

His main rivals in Asia Cup, SIDVIN-MRF Tyres sponsored Bengaluru pair of Pragathi Gowda and co-driver Trisha Alonkar, in a Subaru Impreza 4-wheel drive car whose windshield was shattered when hit by a stone thrown by a miscreant in the penultimate Stage, failed to finish as they ran out of fuel two km from the finish of the three-day event’s last stage.

Consequently, the second spot went to Hyderabad pair of Naveen Puligilla and co-driver Santosh Thomas with Coimbatore’s Ramcharan C (co-driver Jeevarathinam, Bengaluru) of Arka Motorsports completing the podium. Only three of the nine starters in the Asia Cup completed the event.

Former World Rally champion (Production Cars), Karamjit Singh from Malaysia who is training Pragathi, was a shattered man. “We lost P2 in the Asia Cup. We are still figuring out how they ran out of fuel, but on the positive side, I am happy with the progress Pragathi made in the past week. She was stepping up the pace Stage by Stage and getting comfortable with the car. She has a lot of talent and potential,” said Karamjit.

In the National Championship, Wadia won the Overall and INRC 2 titles with overnight leader Himachal’s Aditya Thakur and co-driver Virender Kashyap (Chettinad Sporting) were docked a 30-second penalty for late check-in as they stopped to repair a damaged exhaust pipe after completing a Stage, and had to be content finishing second in INRC Overall and INRC 2 categories.

Earlier, the overnight leader in the Asia Cup, Aroor Arjun Rao (co-driver Satish Rajagopal) of Mandovi Racing, packed up after the day’s first Stage when he lost power steering. Also retiring was Day-1 leader Dean Mascarenhas (co-driver Gagan Karumbaiah) of DB Motorsport due to a fuel pump issue in the day’s penultimate Stage.

Harkrishan, son of former Rally ace Anil Wadia, could barely stop smiling. “I pushed hard today as I had to make some time. The car was great and I am thankful to MRF Tyres for all the support. I made just one mistake when I overran a corner, but fortunately, it did not impact my position on the leaderboard. Overall, a good start to the season.”

A dejected Thakur rued that he slipped to second after looking primed to win. “We had an exhaust issue. So, after SS-11, we stopped in the transport section to carry out some running repairs. It cost us time and we had to take a 30-second penalty for check-in at the next Time Control. We are extremely disappointed but hope to do better in the next round,” said Thakur.

Kerala’s Vishak Balachandran (co-driver Anil Abbas), supported by MRF Tyres, took the honours in the INRC 3 while Shillong’s Phoebe Nongrum (co-driver Nash Ross, Hyderabad) of SNAP Racing, topped the Women INRC category with two front runners, Anushriya Gulati, and Tarushi Vikram retired with mechanical problems. MRF Tyres-backed Arjun Rajiv from Bengaluru (co-driver Vinay Padmashali, Mysuru) of Chettinad Sporting drove well to clinch the title in the Junior INRC category.

Delhi’s Baljinder Singh Dhillon (co-driver CP Gautam, Chikkamagaluru) emerged on top in the Fmsci Challenge Gypsy Cup.

Of the 51 crews who started the Rally, 23 retired. The second round of the INRC is scheduled to be held in Nashik from May 31 to June 2.

Provisional classification (after Leg-2):

FIA APRC-Asia Rally Cup:

1. Harkrishan Wadia (Delhi) / Kunal Kashyap (Himachal) (Arka Motorsports) (02Hrs, 04mins, 59.8secs); 2. Naveen Puligilla / Santosh Thomas (both Hyderabad) (Pvt.) (02:15:22.0); 3. Ramcharan C (Coimbatore) / Jeevarathinam (Bengaluru) (Arka Motorsports) (02:17:24.1).

Indian National Rally Championship:

INRC Overall: 1. Harkrishan Wadia (Delhi) / Kunal Kashyap (Himachal) (Arka Motorsports) (02:04:59.8); 2. Aditya Thakur / Virender Kashyap (both Himachal) (Chettinad Sporting) (02:05:05.0); 3. Vishak Balachandran (Thiruvananthapuram) / Anil Abbas (Ernakulam) (Chettinad Sporting) (02:10:02.6).

INRC 2: 1. Harkrishan Wadia / Kunal Kashyap (02:04:49.8); 2. Aditya Thakur / Virender Kashyap (02:05:05.0); 3. Naveen Puligilla / Santosh Thomas (02:15:22.0).

INRC 3: 1. Vishak Balachandran / Anil Abbas (02:10:02.6); 2. Daraious Shroff (Mumbai) / Srikanth Gowda (Chikkamagaluru) (Chettinad Sporting) (02:10:48.1); 3. Samrat Yadav (Chandigarh) / Arvind Dheerendra (Bengaluru) (Pvt.) (02:11:48.2).

Junior INRC (2 finishers): 1. Arjun Rajiv (Bengaluru) / Vinay Padmashali (Mysuru) (Chettinad Sporting) (02:13:47.9); 2. Ajay Shankar (Kollam)/ S Nitharshan (Kallakurichi) (Mandovi Racing) (02:14:00.0).

Women INRC (2 finishers): 1. Phoebe Nongrum (Shillong) / Nash Ross (Hyderabad) (Snap Racing) (02:28:27.4); 2. Harshitha Gowda (Bengaluru)/ Vignesh Mahalingam (Coimbatore) (Pvt.) (02:45:42.8).

Fmsci Gypsy Challenge: 1. Baljinder Singh Dhillon (Delhi) / Goutham CP (Chikkamagaluru) (Pvt.) (02:21:51.9); 2. Dr Akarsh Sundar (Chikkamagaluru)/ Ravi Kumar (Bengaluru) (Pvt.) (02:24:45.7); 3. Jayanth Somanathan / R Rajashekar (Both Bengaluru) (Pvt.) (02:24:51.9).



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