: On a day of surprises, INRC 3's Chetan Shivram of Akshara Racing took the early lead in the Rally of Coimbatore, the second round of the Champions Yacht Club-FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship here on Saturday.
Chetan and co-driver Dilip Sharan, his brother, were most comfortable in the treacherous terrain, marked by slushy conditions and loose sand, posting a total time of 1:05:32.900 hours to complete the five stages on day one to be ahead of a record field.
Suhem Kabeer (with Jeeva Rathnam) and Younus Ilyas (Harish Gowda) were in hot pursuit of the leader, taking the second and third positions by the end of the day.
The two JK Tyre drivers, both INRC 2 contenders, were in their elements, with Suhem showing consistency in all the stages while Younus won the last two stages to climb into the top three.
Hot favourite Mahindra Adventure's Gaurav Gill (Musa Sherif) began on a positive note, posting the fastest times in the first three stages before he picked up a puncture and had to eventually pull out with a malfunction.
Even Karna Kadur (Arka) and comeback man Vikram Mathias (Race Concepts) had a tough day, falling out of contention after the third stage.
Round 1 winner Dean Mascarenhas managed to finish but a very poor second stage that got his car stuck in slush hurt him badly, pushing him to 20th position.
"After continuous rainfall last night, it suddenly became sunny in the morning leading to the surface becoming really hard. There were stones all over the stages which made it difficult," Gill said at the end of day one.
"I am obviously not happy with my current scenario but would say that I would take it as a learning experience and I will bounce back strong," he added.
Interestingly, none of the INRC entries managed to finish on the first day.
Results (after day 1): INRC Overall: 1. Chetan Shivram & Dilip Sharan 1:05:32.900hr; 2. Suhem Kabeer & Jeeva Rathinam 1:05:33:300; 3. Younus Ilyas & Harish Gowda 1:05:45.600.
INRC 2: 1. Suhem Kabeer & Jeeva Rathinam 1:05:33:300 hr; 2. Younus Ilyas & Harish Gowda 1:05:45.600; 3. Ritesh Guttedar & M Lokarajan 1:05:51.400.
INRC 3: 1. Chetan Shivram & Dilip Sharan 1:05:32.900 hr; 2. Fabid Ahmer & Sanath G 1:06:19.400; 3. Arjun Rao & Shanmuga Sundaram 1:06:43.600.
INRC 4: 1. Suraj Thomas & Shob George 1:07:51.800 hr; 2. Vaibhav Marate & ArjunB 1:07:55.400; 3. Manoj Mohanan & Francis Sachin 1:09:00:600.
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