Kochi, December 20: Defending champion Gaurav Gill will be aiming to end the year on a high after a barren run as the Popular Rally, the final round of the Champions Yacht Club FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship 2019, gets underway here over the weekend.
The JK Tyre driver, along with his navigator Musa Sherif, has had a difficult season with technical failures playing spoilsport for him throughout the season. He is currently in the seventh position with 29 points from four rounds.
His team-mate Dean Mascarenhas (& co-driver Shruptha Padivel) is third on the overall tally with 47 points and is leading his INRC 2 class. He, however, faces an uphill task as MRF drivers Chetan Shivram (with co-driver Dilip Sharan) and Fabid Ahmer (& Sanath G) are sitting pretty on the 1st and 2nd places in the overall category.
Chetan had emerged victorious in the last two rounds and has 75 points, a handy lead of 24 points. He has been the surprise package this season, driving steadily and smartly to be in line for his biggest victory. Team Champions' Fabid with a total of 51 points will start as a strong contender in this round and is expected to narrow the gap, if not topple Chetan from the top.
Team Champions' Dr Bikku Babu along with his co-driver Milen George will be another driver to watch out for. He is currently placed fourth overall with 41 points and is tied on points with Dean in the INRC 2 category. He has been the stand-out performer of this season, will be in the mix and fancy his chances in the final round.
Race Concepts' Younus Ilyas (& Harish Gowda) is in the third place in INRC 2 category and is separated from the top-2 by just 13 points. The JK Tyre backed driver has the speed and quality to give a tough fight to the leaders on his home turf and change the script of the championship. He had won the Popular Rally last year and will definitely look to draw inspiration from it and aim to finish on a glorious note.
In the INRC 3 category, it will be a two-way fight between Chetan and Fabid. They are separated by just nine points and their fight will not only determine the outcome in the category but also will have a huge bearing on the overall scheme of things.
In the INRC 4 category, Team Champions' Vaibhav Marathe is on top of the table with 90 points and looks poised to end the year on a high. He, however, will be wary of Rakshith Iyer who is breathing down his neck in the second place with 79 points.
To be held in Kottayam, the final round of the championship will see over 35 teams fight it out for the top honours. The rally to run on asphalt will cover over 530 km including 121.74 km earmarked for 12 Special Stages
Source: Media Release