Gaurav Gill rules day one of Rally of Coimbatore

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Coimbatore, Jan 30 (PTI) Indian rally driver Gaurav Gill stole the show on opening day of the Rally of Coimbatore, Round 3 of the FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship, here on Saturday.

Gill along with his The JK Tyre co-driver Musa Sherif, who is on the hunt for a record seventh national title, started from where he left in Arunachal and and opened up a comfortable lead in the first two stages of the day itself.

Gill drove cautiously henceforth and made sure to bring his car home in the remaining stages to go atop the chart after four stages with a total time of 58.41.8 minutes.

'It was a good day to rally. My strategy worked out perfectly and after pushing it to the limit initially, I dropped down pace to avoid any mishaps,' Gill said.

'I would say it was quite a clever driving by me and the key to win here is to be smart and know when exactly to go hard and when to be cautious.' MRF Tyre driver Bikku Babu and his co-driver Bonny Thomas was equally impressive on a day that was filled with DNF's and drove his Volkswagen Polo with precision to clock a total time of 01:00:19.5 hours to take the second position on the overall standing.

Bikku came into his own in this round and is leading in his INRC 2 category.

However, the biggest success story of the day has to be Fabid Ahmer (JK Tyre) who has stunned many big names to find himself on the third spot on the overall category.

The INRC 3 driver and his co-driver Eldo Chacko returned with a total time of 01:00:08.3 hours to stay hot on heels of the leaders.

The Rally of Coimbatore which is known for being one of the toughest of the calender saw some big names to drop out of contention including Amittrajit Ghosh, who was second after SS 2 and was the only driver posing a real threat to Gill.

He lost out 30 seconds in service after SS 2 and slipped to 6th. He, however blitzed his way in SS 3 clocking fastest time and was 7 seconds quicker than Gill and reclaimed his 2nd place.

However, as luck would have it, his car developed mechanical snag and he had to drop out eventually midway in the last stage.

In the INRC 2 category, Team Yokohama's Chetan Shivram (co-driver Sahid Salman) is sitting pretty on the second spot with a total time 01:01:13.1 hours, despite driving in a stock engine Volkswagen Polo followed by Sahil Khanna & Vidit Jain. (1:01:33.01 hours).

Arjun Rao & Shanmuga SN (Yokohama Tyree) is trailing Fabid in the second position in INRC 3 category followed by Team Nutulapati's Aditya Thakur & Virender Kashyap (MRF Tyres).

Vaibhav Marathe & Suhan M Kabeer (Yokohama Tyres) came up with an impressive performance and is leading the INRC 4 category with a total time of 01:04:15.3 hours and will be a firm favourite to win the round on the final day. PTI ATK BS BS