Round 1 of Indian National Rally Championship receives record entries

Chetan Shivram, Gaurav Gill and Karna Kadur to headline the upcoming Rally of Arunachal
Chetan Shivram on his way to winning the 2019 Indian National Rally Championship
Chetan Shivram on his way to winning the 2019 Indian National Rally ChampionshipAbhi Raj K and Faisal Khan

The scenic locales of Itanagar will finally reverberate with the sound of roaring cars as the much awaited Rally of Arunachal, the first round of the Champions Yacht Club Indian National Rally Championship (INRC), powered by MRF Tyres kicks off on Wednesday.

The Rally of Arunachal is making a comeback after a year’s gap, and will be seen in a bigger avatar with a record number of 43 cars lining up for glory including the country's top rally drivers.

While the tarmac surface on which the entire rally would run will make it a level playing field for all the drivers, the cynosure of all eyes will be the battle between defending champion Chetan Shivram and Gaurav Gill.

Chetan was the one who ended Gaurav’s streak last year and will be eager to kick-start his title defence on a high note. The Bengaluru-based driver who has been snapped up by Yokohama for this year will be driving with a new co-driver Rupesh Kholay.

India’s only Arjuna awardee in motorsports and multiple times INRC champion Gaurav (with co-driver Musa Sherif) had an uneventful last season and will look to begin the year with a bang. He will be aiming to conquer new frontiers and even though he had a below par 2019, he signed off with a win in the ultimate round and will naturally aim to begin from where he left.

Privateer Karna Kadur (with co-driver Nikhil Pai) will be another one to watch for and he too will have his sights set on the top step of the podium, especially after a poor run of form in the last season.

The Rally of Arunachal will see the teams fight it out over a total distance of 178.32km, with as many as 108km earmarked for four special stages over two days including two night stages which will provide the drivers as well as the spectators’ ample opportunity for fun.

“It is a great way to start the season after the Covid-19 situation. The number of entries for Arunachal is indeed an evidence of our hard work over the past year. In the past when the rally struggled to line-up 15 drivers on the grid, we have 43 this year which I think is quite fabulous. And also the kind of sponsors we have been able to attract this season including MRF Tyres, JK Tyre, Yokohama Tyres is a very encouraging sign and is an indication that good things are in store for future of Indian rallying,” Vamcy Merla, promoter of INRC said.

“Also I would like to express my gratitude to the Government of Arunachal, and Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs for their continued support for INRC and motorsports as a whole,” he added.

While the battle between Chetan and Gaurav is expected to be the main attraction, the likes of Dean Mascarenhas (with co-driver Shruptha Padivel), Dr Bikku Babu (with co-driver Bonnie Thomas) of Team Nutulapati, Amittrajit Ghosh (with co-driver Ashwin Naik) amongst others shall also fancy their chances. Also there will be several women drivers on the grid including the Team Vasundhara duo of Bani Yadav (with co-driver Shubhkiran Pal Kaur Brar) and Pragathi Gowda (with co-driver Deeksha Balakrishna).

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