The Bengaluru duo win the first Rally of Nagaland, add to their 2022 Championship victory
Gill dominates all the stages he took part in, but mechanics' manual-error denies him a win
Arnav at his best in Junior INRC; 18-year Arjun Rajiv, youngest on podium
The MRF supported Bengaluru pair of Karna Kadur and Nikhil Pai from Arka Motorsports were the winners of the Rally of Nagaland, which was the concluding round of the BlueBand FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship 2022. They won the rally by extending the Day 1 lead of 1min 34sec to 2min 38sec as they clocked a total time of 1hr 21min 42sec. They managed to keep behind the Snap Racing pair and former champions of Chetan Shivram and Dilip Sharan supported by Yokohama in second position. Aditya Thakur and Virender Kashyap from Himachal Pradesh, also supported by MRF representing Chettinad Sporting, took the overall third on the podium with a difference of 2min 56sec to the leader.
Philippos Mitthai and PVS Murthy supported by MRF, Rallying from Arka Motorsports, missed the podium by a margin of less than seven seconds. Unable to capitalise on their Day 1 standing of third, with a lead of three seconds over Aditya Thakur, and eight seconds lead over Philippos, the pair of Arnav Pratap Singh and Arjun SSB supported by Yokohama from Snap Racing finally finished fifth, with a further difference of 30seconds.
Fabid Ahmer and Sanath G supported by JK Tyre, were another three seconds behind in sixth position. Maninder Singh Prince and Vinay Padmashali supported by JK Tyre with another 11 seconds difference finished seventh, while the Snap Racing pair of Vikram Rao Aroor and AS Sommayya supported by MRF finished eighth. Rahul Kanthraj and Vivek Bhatt, also backed by MRF Rallying, form Arka Motorsports were ninth with a further difference of 1min 20sec. Syed Salman from Mysuru and Rishabh BK from Mangaluru supported by JK Tyre finished in tenth position, with just 2-second further difference.
The JK Tyre supported pair of Gaurav Gill and Musa Sherif began their day well being the fastest driver in the first stage. They clocked 11min 51.400sec and were two seconds ahead of their nearest competitor despite facing handling issues just before the stage finishing mark. But they were unable to take the second stage start, as the wheel nut of their front wheel had already ripped off in the stage forcing them to withdraw. Only one bolt was left to hold the rim, thus probably the manual error while fitting the wheels forced him to retire. But Gill came back strongly on Day 2 and was fastest in all the stages as he managed to improve on his own stage timings in both the repeat-runs and he made up 1min 4sec lead over the winners.
The pair of Dean Mascarenhas and Gagan Karumbaiah supported by JK Tyre faced clutch issues right from first transport and had a puncture in the very first stage and lost time, but in the later two stages in the repeat run, they bounced back, but the clutch issue was left unaddressed due to insufficient service time, thus he planned to complete the rally, parallely they had to handle the lost time on Day 1 as they were running 16th. The Mandovi Motors pair supported by MRF, Arjun Rao Aroor and Satish Kumar, had to give up in the third stage of Day 1 due to drive shaft issues. They never took the start on Day 2.
Bengaluru Brothers Chetan Shivram and Dilip Sharan from Snap Racing, supported by Yokohama, won the class with a lead of 18sec over the second finishers Himachal Pradesh pair of Aditya Thakur and Virender Kashyap. The duo backed by MRF on a Chettinad Sporting tuned Polo, began the final day with 43 seconds deficit but managed to cut it down to 18sec. JK Tyre supported pair from Kerala Fabid Ahmer and Sanath G who suffered braking issues, began the final day with a 9-sec difference to Aditya. But they further lost time on Day 2 and with a 40-sec difference stood third.
Another MRF-supported pair, Aroor Vikram Rao and Somayya AG from Snap Racing was unable to perform well on Day 2 as he was unable to capitalise on the 4-sec deficit on Day 2 start with Aditya. They missed the podium by 40 seconds. Arka Motorsports pair of Rahul Kanthraj and Vivek Bhatt supported by MRF were 1min 20sec slower and had to settle for fifth. Ritesh Guttedar and Lokranajan from Bengaluru finished in sixth position with a further difference of 1min 35 seconds. Suhem Kabeer and Jeevarathinam supported by JK Tyre had to finish in seventh position as they had a disappointing Day 1 with gear box issue in the 10th km of stage one and had to pull out they rejoined on Day 2 and were third in Leg 2 but they were down the lane as Day 1 penalties were huge. Harkrishan Wadia and Ashwin Naik, supported by JK Tyre representing Arka Motorsports, after a very good first stage timing had to pull out in the second stage, a few Kms before the stage finish, as the rear end of the vehicle hit a rubble which lead to electrical issues. Jaahan Singh Gill and Suraj Keshava Prasad from Snap Racing, supported by JK Tyre, were running third in the class till the final stage but engine issues cropped up in the final stage of the day which denied them a start on Day 2, as rectifying the issue was not possible in the available time.
MRF supported pair of Philippos Matthai and PVS Murthy from Arka Motorsports with a total time of 1:24.46 were the winners of class. They managed to take a 29-sec lead on the Day-1 leading pair of Arnav Pratap Singh and Arjun SSB supported by Yokohama from Snap Racing. Philippos was behind Arnav on Day 1 with an 8-sec difference. Maninder Singh Prince and Vinay Padmashali supported by JK Tyre were further behind 15sec and settled for third.
The pair of Syed Salman Ahmed and RK Rishabh supported by JK Tyre, with a difference of 1min 27sec finished fourth and Vishakh B and Anil Abbas from Chettinad Sporting came fifth another three seconds later. Chandan M and Venu Ramesh Kumar from Arka Motorsports, supported by MRF, finished in sixth position with a further difference of 1min 22sec. Jason Saldanha and Thimmu Udapanda were unable to hold on to their Day 1 position and slipped down to seventh. Kuber Sharma and Kunal Kashyap supported by JK Tyre were the fastest in Stage 1. But they had to retire in stage two as they banged into a right-hander due to brake issues and had to pull out for the day. They managed to complete the rally after rejoining on Day 2. Similar was the case in the same corner for the all-ladies team of Pragathi Gowda and Trisha Alonkar who were supported by MRF. In the last stage of Day 1, they lost control due to brake issues and crashed against a pole while negotiating a right hander. They had to pull out on Day 1 but managed to finish the rally after rejoining on the final day.
Ruthuparna Vivek and Santhosh Thomas from Snap Racing with a total time of 1:35.02 were the winners followed by P Ananth Kumar and Sagar Mallappa from Ammyfied Racing with over 12min 7sec.
The MRF supported pair of Sanjay Agarwal and Shiv Prakash were seen back together after a long time and were the winners of the class.
The podium was completely dominated by the Snap Racing cars. Arnav Pratap Singh and Arjun SSB supported by Yokohama were the winners of the class clocking a total time of 1:25.16. Bengaluru's 18-year Arjun Rajiv, the youngest in this rally, in his debut season along with city-mate Pramod Raman finished second with a difference of 7min 21sec. The Yokohama supported ladies team of Nikeetaa Takkale from Pune and Angela James from Bengaluru in her debut event completed the podium with a further difference of 4min 46sec. Pragathi Gowda and Trisha Alonkar supported by MRF representing Arka Motorsports, who had crashed in the final stage of Day 1, rejoined on Day 2 and managed to finish in fourth position.