Itanagar, Nov 3 (IANS) Team Mahindra Adventure racer and defending champion Gaurav Gill emerged victorious on the opening day of the third round of the MRF-FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) here on Saturday.
Gill asserted his supremacy by taking the lead on day one of the Rally of Arunachal as four our of the seven stages were completed on the day.
Competing in the first tarmac rally of the year, Gill carried the favourite tag post his wins in the opening two rounds in Chennai and Coimbatore.
The ace rallyist along with Musa Sherif as co-driver completed the total four stages of the total distance for an aggregate timing of 31:22.9 minutes to stay ahead of the pack.
The three-time Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) champion and his co-driver were in a class of their own, winning three of the four stages on Saturday much to the delight of awe-struck fans.
Gill, however faced an early setback losing 5 seconds after a tyre of his Super XUV500 burst.
“The first stage went off very well. We, however, hit a stone in Stage 2 and picked up a puncture,” the five-time INRC champion said.
“We still managed to finish in decent time, which helped us stay in the lead,” he added.
Gill explained that the final day might be tricky as the track was likely to be muddy following rains while they only had tyres suited for tarmac.
“It won’t be easy but we will give it our best shot,” he declared.
Meanwhile, Snap Racing’s Phalguna Urs and Srikanth, driving the Volkswagen Polo, were the surprise factors of the day, taking the second position with an impressive timing of 32:54.7 minutes.
They showed a lot of speed and power in the first three stages but faltered in the fourth stage to hold on to second position overnight.
Gill’s teammate Amittrajit Ghosh with Ashwin Naik as co-driver clocked an aggregate timing of 33:05.1 minutes to finish third.
Both the INRC-1 competitors will be looking to improve their standing on the second day of the competition on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, the Rally of Arunachal at National Highway 425 from Chimpu to Hollongi near Itanagar, was flagged off by state DGP S.B.K. Singh.