Hatrick wins for Arka Motorsports as they bag, Rally of Hyderabad, Robusta Rally of Kodagu and K1000 Rally
Tumakuru: Delhi’s Harkrishan Wadia and co-driver Kunal Kashyap from Himachal Pradesh turned their overnight lead into a memorable victory at the iconic Blueband K1000 Rally, and won the 2023 INRC2 title bagging full 40 points in the sixth and final round of the Blueband Sports fmsci Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) for four-wheelers, which concluded near Gubbi on Dec 23.
The event was organised by KMSC, Karnataka Motorsports club, with 59 competitors in fray, only 30 cars finished. Six cars on Day 1 and 21 cars on Day 2 did not finish (DNF).
There were two physical Special Stages (SS), Thirtharama which was 20.78km long, and Hatyalu was 15.74km. The 9.67km Kondli stage did not run due to technical reasons and the length of the other two stages were increased. On Friday, both the stages were run twice in the same direction and on Saturday, the Leg 2 had the competitors take each of the stage once for a total Special Stage distance of 109.56km.
“After a long time, we have brought six rounds to the INRC and have also revived the popular venues like Hyderabad and Kodagu. As the season ends, we endeavour to bring more highlights to the ever popular rallying season next year,” said Premnath K, Chief Promoter, Blueband Sports.
Arka Motorsports’ Harkrishan Wadia and co-driver Kashyap, driving an INRC2 spec Volkswagen Polo 1.6 did a commendable job to hold the nerve till the last minute. They started Day 2 with a comfortable lead of over 45sec on Younus and further extended the lead by the end of Day 2 to 1min 12sec. Privateers Dean Mascarenhas from Mangaluru and Gagan Karumbaiah from Kodagu were 48sec behind the leader and were in third at the end of Day 1. With an excellent run in SS5 they managed to put Younus 7-sec behind and managed to climb a position up to finish second with a difference of 1min 03sec. Younus Ilyas from Kollam along with Nitin Jacob from Hyderabad representing Snap Racing, with a difference of 1min 12sec with the leader completed the podium.
Jason Saldanha and Thimmu Uddapanda from Dark Don Rallying with a further difference of 1min 33sec finished in fourth position. Delhi's Jahaaan Singh Gill and Bengaluru's Suraj Keshava Prasad settled for fifth with a further 10-sec deficit, three positions up than their Day 1 finish. Daraious Shroff along with Shahid Salman from Chettinad Sporting finished sixth with a total penalty of 1min 12sec. The Bengaluru pair of Chetan Shivram and Shiv Prakash from Jo.1 Rallying were a further 32-sec behind in seventh. Their teammates Ritesh Guttedar M and Suraj M with 1min 53sec further difference were in eighth position. Youngster from Bengaluru Arjun Rajiv along with Milen George from Ammyfied Rallying, with an additional 46-sec difference came ninth. Sheshank Jamwal and Aseem Sharma from Arka Motorsports finished tenth.
Delhi daredevil and Arjuna Awardee Gaurav Gill along with Aniruddh Rangnekar supported by JK Tyre, began with a bang and clocked the fastest stage times in the first two special stages but it was his compatriot young gun Harkrishan Wadia, also from Delhi, who stole the limelight beating the best in the next two stages on Day 1, as Gaurav was facing a few issues with his car. With two more repeat stages left to be taken on Day 2, he clocked the fastest stage time of the rally and he managed to climb from fifth position to second position. He cut down the lead with 47sec in this single stage from 1min 9sec before the Day 2 start and closed in on the leader Harkrishan with only 22sec gap. With the final stage of about 12kms left, he left no stone unturned but ran out of luck with just 5kms to the finish, as he had to pull out due to ball joint issues.
After finishing fourth on Day 1 the pair of Philippos Matthai and PV Srinivas Murthy from Arka Motorsports supported by MRF began the final day with 1min 01sec difference with their teammmates and leader, but after completing 12kms he had to pull out due to electrical issues. Their another teammates Karna Kadur and Vivek Y Bhatt both from Bengaluru supported by MRF began the final day from sixth position, as they had lost time while trying to go past another teammates Amittrajit Ghosh and Ashwin Naik, who were crawling due to break issues and looking for a safer place to pull out. Karna was given 1min advantage by the stewards for having to wait for a long distance during this. By then Gaurav Gill had also closed in and he also had to slow down in this process and he was given 15-sec advantage for this visibility issues. Karna had paired with Bhatt for the first time, who had replaced an indisposed Nikhil Pai. This pair had to pull out in SS5 due to rear left-break pad issues.
The Mangaluru-Bengaluru pair of Aroor Arjun Rao and co-driver Satish Rajagopal from Mandovi Racing had already won the Blueband Indian National Rally Championship 2023 Overall title winning the first three rounds and took a 45-point unbeatable lead going into K1000. In SS2 they noticed power steering issues and after rectifying in the service, they took the SS3 start and just into 600m, it resurfaced and they had to pull out. Amittrajit Ghosh and Ashwin Naik in SS1 were facing brake issues and front left slow puncture and decided to pull out and rejoin on day two, in their first stage of the day once again they had to pull out just 1km from start due to Sub-Frame issues. Their teammates from Arka Motorsports Dhruva Chandrashekar and Vinay Padmashali had to pull out in stage one due to mechanical issues. They rejoined on Day 2, and managed to complete the rally.
“I am delighted with the back-to-back wins and the title is a bonus. I am grateful to my father and I thank all my team, especially Leela sir, Karna, Phil and all the boys. But for them, this would not have been possible,” said the 25-year Harkrishan, the 2020 Junior INRC champ and son of former rally star Anil Wadia.
Harkrishan Wadia and co-driver Kunal Kashyap from Arka Motorsports, with a total time of 1hr 26min 53sec were the winners of the class, this was also the second straight class win this season, Chetan Shivram and co-driver E Shivprakash from Jo1 Rallying, took the second place with a difference of 3min 40sec, while their teammate Ritesh Guttedar and Suraj M both from Bengaluru finished third with a difference of 5min 34sec with the leader. They finished Day 1 in 11th position and were eighth in the overall leader board. Ramcharan C from Coimbatore and Jeevarathinam from Bengaluru, representing Arka Motorsports, finished fourth with a difference of 16min 46sec with the leader. Sahil Khanna from Delhi and Harish KN Gowda from Bengaluru finished fifth with a difference of 23min 33sec. Deepak Chandra and Mahesh Nandi came sixth another 50min 5sec behind.
In the INRC3 class, Mangaluru's Jason Saldanha and Kodagu's co-driver Thimmanna Uddapanda, from Dark Don Rallying fresh from their exploits in this year’s Thailand Rally Championship (2WD Category), emerged as winners. Delhi's Jahaan Singh Gill and co-driver Bengaluru boy Suraj Keshav Prasad from Snap Racing finished second. They began Day 2 with a difference of 22sec on the leader and finally managed to scale it down to 10-sec by the end of the day which was enough for them to clinch the INRC3 2023 championship.
Daraius Shroff and Shahid Salman from Chettinad Sporting, who were in title contention till Hyderabad, lost the plot in the last two rounds. They finished third in their class with a further 12-sec difference. They were unable to capitalise on the 7-sec difference on the final day start. Arjun Rajiv and Milen George from Ammyfied Rallying were further down by 3min 12sec and settled for fourth. The pair of Sheshank Jamwal and Aseem Sharma from Arka Motorsports ended up fifth with a difference of 2min 54sec. Privateer Ajay Sankar along with Nitharshan were sixth with 7min 28sec difference.
INRC4: Ammyfied Rallying pair of Abhin Rai from Kodagu and co-driver Rohit Gowda from Bengaluru won the class on way to their maiden INRC4 title. Kothamangalam privateers Athul Thomas and Sajil V Saji came second with a difference of 11min 08sec and Praveen Dwarakanath and co-driver Kariyappa KB were third with a difference of 3min 31sec. Vignesh Janarthanan and Senthil Kumar Kannan finished fourth while Sefeekudheel and Arun V from Kass Motorsports were fifth. Championship contender Vivek Ruthuparna and Deeksha Balakrishna from Snap Racing missed the chance as they had to pull out in Stage 2.
In the Gypsy class, Ammyfied Rallying made a clean sweep of the podium led by Samrat Yadav and Arvind Dheerendra with a total time of 1hr 40min 02sec. The Kodagu pair of Darshan Nachappa and co-driver Abhinav Ganapathy was second with a difference of 3min 26sec and that was enough for them to clinch the 2023 FMSCI
With a difference of 23sec, the pair of Dr Akarsh Sunder from Chikkamagaluru and V Sekar from Coimbatore, who finished third, amassed more points but lost on “N minus one’ rule, where drivers can discard one round. Baljindar Singh Dhillon and Goutham CP finished fourth. Jayanth Somanathan and R Rajashekar came fifth while the pair of Sanjay Agarwal from Bengaluru and Phalguna Raghavendra finished sixth.
JINRC: Jahaan Singh along with Suraj Keshava Prasad, who won the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) Junior title last month in Indonesia, also won the Junior INRC title. They were also the toppers of the class. Arjun Rajiv and Milen George from Ammyfied Rallying finished second with 3min 24sec difference. Abhin Rai and Rohit Gowda were third further behind by 3min 11sec. Ajay Sankar and Nitharshan finished fourth and Aditya Kousgi and Dilip Sharan came fifth.
Anushriya Gulati, co-driven by Sherwin Dalmeida from Dark Don Racing, who won the K1000 Rally, also clinched the Ladies Class championship for 2023.
Anushriya was reeling with engine overheating issues in both SS3 and SS4 on Day 1 and had to contend with Nikeetaa, who was very closely behind her in both the stages. But Nikeetaa was unable to overtake her due to heavy dust.
The final day began with Shivani Parmar and Arjun Dheerendra leading by 12sec on the pair of Nikeetaa Takkale and Raghuram Saminathan but Shivani had to pull out in SS5 due to engine failure. Nikeetaa too had a bad day in the SS5. Within the first km, she hit a rock on the route and was managing well and she had to just nurse her car back home as she had a comfortable lead of 29sec on Anushriya who was running third. But few kms before the finish she had to pull out due to ball joint problem. Anushriya Gulati was never trouble-free as she still had issues with her car and lost over 12min trying to sort out the issue. DNF also would have sealed her championship but finally she managed to nurse her car back to win the class and was the lone finisher in this class.