Bengaluru: Chetan Shivram and Dr Bikku Babu took advantage of the pull outs by most of the heavyweights to stage a dramatic comeback for MRF in the Champions Yacht Club FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship here on Sunday (November 24).

The speedy but shrewd duo made it a spectacular one-two for the Reds as the carefully laid out but treacherous stages wiped out anybody who dared to challenge them. Starting from the fifth and fourth positions, Chetan and Babu preserved their cars before going all out in the final stage to claim the mantle of winner and runner-up in the K-1000 Rally.

Also read: Gaurav Gill takes lead on Day 1

Defending champion and overnight leader Gaurav Gill was among the biggest casualties as he cried out in the morning itself, with his car refusing to even start after the belting it received on Day 1. He and all his favoured JK Tyre Motorsport teammates bit the dust, allowing a free run to the MRF men.

 Akshara’s Chetan, who had won Round 2 as well in almost similar fashion, emerged as the overall INRC Championship leader with this victory. He (with Dilip Sharan as co-driver) claimed his own category too, the INRC 3, with an overall timing of 1:47:37:300 hours. 

That was just 12 seconds faster that Babu (with Milen George) of Team Champions, who pursued him relentlessly all through the day. The doctor finished ahead of Chetan in the day’s first stage, SS5, and even beat him to the post in the last one, SS8, but that wasn’t good enough to topple Chetan. It, however, fetched him the INRC 2 trophy.

“The top guns may not have fired today but we couldn’t have hoped for a more thrilling finish. It was good to see so many of the INRC 2 and 3 teams making a mark here, ahead of the known champions,” Hema Malini Nidamanuri, co-promoter of the INRC, said.

After the shock exit of Gill, order seemed to have been restored, with another JK favourite Dean Mascarenhas winning SS5. But he promptly fell in the next stage, leaving the field for Championship leader Fabid Ahmer. But the MRF driver, who was nursing his car carefully, suffered a puncture in the next and tumbled out.

In the SUV Challenge, Gagan Karumbaiah of Team Champions took the first place to all but seal the 2019 title.

CYC FMSCI INRC, Round 4 Provisional Results:

INRC Overall

1) Chetan Shivram/Dilip Sharan (Akshara) - 1:47:37:300 hr; 2) Bikku Babu/Milen George (Team Champions) - 1:47:49.900 hr; 3) Amittrajit Ghosh/Ashwin Naik (Mahindra Adventure) - 1:51:04.300 hr

INRC 2

1)  Bikku Babu/Milen George (Team Champions) - 1:47:49.900 hr; 2) Sahil Khanna/Rajit Kadian ( Snap Racing) - 1:52:00.200 hr; 3) Younus Ilyas/Harish Gowda - 04:50:24.200 hr

INRC 3

1) Chetan Shivram/Dilip Sharan (Akshara) - 1:47:37:300 hr; 2) Jacob KJ/Murthy PVS (Arka Motorsports) - 1:53:35.600 hr; 3) Pradeep Kumar/Ahammad Ansary (Pipe & Pipe) - 2:19:58.000 hr

INRC 4

1) Mujeeb Rahman/Gautham CP (Privateer)- 1:55:17.900 hr; 2) Shirole Prakhyat H/Bharat SM (Privateer)- 1:57.16.300 hr; 3) Satish Peddineni/Vinay Kumar PM (Team Champions) - 2:33:19.500 hr

SUV Challenge

1) Gagan Karumbaiah/Thimmu Uddapanda ( Team Champions); 2)Thomas Kuncheria M/Dwarakanth Sudarshan (Privateer); 3) Sanjay Agarwal/Smitha N (Team Champions)