The weekend turned out to be an exciting and rewarding one for JK Tyre Motorsport drivers supported by Vamcy Merla Sports Foundation who were participating at the final round of Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) 2023 in Indonesia. The trio kept the Indian flag flying high with their determined & focused drives at the Danau Toba Rally with multiple podium finishes.
The APRC was running concurrently with the Danau Toba Rally of the Indonesia National Rally Championship (INRC), the JK Tyre Motorsport team of drivers were vying for top spot in the overall APRC, in the NVA (National Vehicles Approval) class and in the M2 class of the INRC.
Driving a 4wheel drive car in the rally for the first time with a limited testing time of 6kms, three Indian drivers finished the APRC finale held in Indonesia within top 8, the rally was held along with the Indonesian Rally Championship.
The 21-year-old Jahaan Singh Gill from Chandigarh One of India's youngest upcoming driver along with Suraj Keshav Prasad underlined his supremacy to clinch the prestigious FIA Junior Asia Pacific Rally Championship title 2023 in his maiden outing and became the first Indian to achieve this title. While his team mates Suhem Kabeer along with PVS Murthy finished fourth overall and the pair of Lokesh Gowda and Ashwin Naik finished in fifth position.
Total of 12 stages amounted to about 150kms of special stage from a total of 433kms. The Danau Toba Rally was spread across 12 all-gravel roads from conditions varying from wide open plantation sections to twisty winding mountainous sections.
The stages were challenging, technical and fast, while due to rain the surface was repeatedly changing the coarse, thus forcing all the participants to drive cautiously. Thus huge amount of dropouts of about 28 were on second day. Indian drivers showed much maturity to adapt to the surface condition and reach to the finish.
Rifat Sungkar along with Benjamin Searcy won the rally followed by their teammate H Rahmat and Hade Mbol in second, H Atuy Faturrahman along with Emay Achmad finished third. Suhem Kabeer along with PVS Murthy finished fourth, Lokesh Gowda along with Ashwin Naik finished in fifth position. Sanjay Takale and Musa Sherif finished sixth, Sean Gelael along with Hugo Magalhaes finished in seventh, JahaanSingh Gill and Suraj Prasad finished in eighth postion while the pari of Achmad Aldio Oekon and Respati Adhi finished in ninth position.
In the MVA category Suhem Kabeer along with PVS Murthy was the winner followed by Lokesh Gowda and Ashwin Naik in second position while the pair of Jahaan Singh Gill and Suraj Keshav Prasad finished in third position.
In M2 class which was part of the Indonesia Rally Championship Suhem and Murthy finished second as Lokesh and Ashwin were in third. The celebration just didn’t end with the drivers ruling the podium as team JK Tyre Motorsport was awarded the best team performance award.
After sealing the Junior INRC class back home, Jahaan in his very first International outing driving a Subaru managed to perform at his best in spite of fuel pump issues popping up on day two. He had placed 15th on day after in a 2.07km SSS. He was 12th fastest in the stage2 at Toba Sari which was run within tea estate under slippery condition as this location had very heavy overnight rain. But this progress of 21year old was short lived, before entering into the next stage at Corbus his vehicle stalled due to fuel pump issues and the vehicle had to be brought to service after skipping Hota Tonga and Negeri Dolok stages. He rejoined in stage 6, but was never trouble free and had to pull out for the day with one more stage left.
He took a start on day two as the second stage was too slippery at Toba Sari he managed to make good timing and after once again trouble followed him on the final day. In service car was not cranking then the starter had to be replaced, thus he left the service 3min late which give him additional penalty of 30sec. This youngster was so determined that he overcame all odd's to bring the car to the finish.
Suhem Kabeer along with PVS Murthy on day one was 17th fastest in SSS. They began their day two very cautiously since the track was bit slippery and in the second stage of the day they spun once and lost some time and managed to reach the remote service with no reverse gear, but fixing this issue in remote service was impossible as it was meant only for tyre change and refuelling, thus with no option left for further two stages they had to manage, but it become much worse before the last stage before service they had to take on the stage with only 3rd gear working, which was later fixed in service and they ended their day in 10th position. They began the Final day with about 8min difference with the leader and hence catching them up was out of question and they also had good lead on their follower in third position and hence decided to just nurse back the car to the finish in fourth position.
Lokesh Gowda who was back to rallying after a gap of 3years along with a much experienced co-driver Ashwin Naik finished day one in 18th position and they also along with their team mate managed to climb up positions by the end of the day in spite of losing over 3min while negotiating a right hander as they crashed over a mount. Similar climbing up the order process was in use, they managed to finish behind their teammate in 5th position.
Rain which began a day before the start of the event, continued till the prize distribution which was held under heavy showers.
Speaking on the event all the three participants said they were driving the event in cautious mode as it was their first event and they were on the wedge of first learning the throttle response, breaking points, as their main motive was to finish the rally. All the three pairs were very much thankful for JK Tyre Motorsport and VM Sports for providing them a International rallying platform.
“I am really happy with this achievement and would like to help to thank JK Tyre Motorsport and Vamcy Merla Foundation for their support. It was very difficult terrain and driving for the first time was not an easy task. The stages were already very tricky and the rains made it worse. We knew the hazards of driving on this surface but we held our act together and managed to end on the podium,” an elated Jahaan said.
“It was one of the most difficult rallies that I have been part of. It was an uncharted territory for us with little knowledge of the terrain. The slush made the stages very slippery and I had to dig deep into my reservoir to finish the event unscathed,” Suhem said.