Coimbatore, July 29: The curtain goes up on the MRF FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) 2017 here in Coimbatore on Sunday (July 30), with the country's best rallyists squaring off and renewing their battles for top honours, glory and handsome winners' purses.
As many as 32 teams will be in fray at the opening round of the championship, the MRF Rally of Coimbatore, with 2-time APRC champion Gaurav Gill (Team Mahindra Adventure), defending champion Karna Kadur (ARKA Motorsports INRC), two-time INRC champion Amittrajit Ghosh (Team Mahindra Adventure) and Arjun Rao (AR Racing) likely to be the main contenders once again.
The rally will cover a distance of 200 kilometres in and around Kethanur, on the outskirts of the city of Coimbatore, with 71.40 kilometres earmarked for 5 special stages on gravel roads. It traverses through closed sections of, both, public and private, roads and the entire route map has already been shared with the competitors for reconnaissance.
In all, there will be six rounds this year and all of them will be held in different locales and different terrains which will test the skills of the drivers to the hilt.
"Last year my car broke down so I couldn't be among the top contenders. But that's in the past," Gaurav declared.
"I am ready and raring to go now. We are going to have new car set-ups from the next round which will make the cars faster and so a lot more exciting for us," he added.
FMSCI president Akbar Ebrahim agreed that the new rally season would be highly competitive.
"We have close to 35 teams which is a very good start," he said. "We have six rounds which will test the drivers a lot more," he said.
Defending champion Karna, who will be competing for a new team this season, conceded that he would need some time to get his car into the groove. Beyond that, though, I am feeling good and confident. It should be fun as we have more rounds," he said.
Amittrajit also revealed that he was a little rustic as he hadn't been in a rally car for seven months. "I will get into my rhythm soon," he said, talking about his chances.