- The 2019 Indian National Rally Championship kicked off with South India Rally in Chennai.
- Dean Mascarenhas won Round 1 INRC Overall bagging an early lead.
Dean Mascarenhas won the South India Rally last weekend beating the late resurgence from ARRC champion Gaurav Gill. Kicking off the 2019 season of the Champions Yacht Club-FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship, the Team Champion’s driver finished on top in INRC overall with a time of 1:45.10.800 hour ahead of Fabid Ahmer (1:45:24.400 hour) and Gaurav Gill (1:45:27.800 hour).
Going into the third and final leg with a 10-second overall lead and 1.41 minutes clear of Gill, Mascarenhas and his co-driver Shruptha Padival expected an easy win. But an errant car and Gill’s aggressive driving saw his lead being steadily wiped out from both ends, raising the spectre of a sensational last-minute upset. However, Team Mahindra's Gill with his co-driver Musa Sherif – who finished second in the day’s first stage and won all remaining four – suffered a massive blow in the penultimate stage behind the wheels of their rally-prepped Super XUV300. A herd of cows blocked Gill’s path, costing him around 7 to 10 seconds.
He was awarded 10 seconds by the Stewards for the unfortunate delay, thereby, putting him in the third position in the overall category. Gill’s performance was sufficient to win him the INRC category too but not good enough to dislodge Mascarenhas or Fabid Ahmer. On the other hand, Rahul Kanthraj and co-driver Vivek Bhatt missed the podium in the overall category by a mere one second.
Dean and Fabid Ahmer made it a sensational 1-2 for the Shubhakar Rao-owned team, with Dean also taking the INRC 2 and Fabid the INRC 3. Vaibhav Marate bagged the INRC 4.
Delighted with his breakthrough victory, Dean Mascarenhas, said, “My car had lost one of the four cylinders on Saturday itself and it kept stalling, adding to the pressure. I, however, held my nerves and came through, making this one of my sweetest wins”.
Gill, on his third-place finish, said “We worked very hard to make up for the lacklustre first two days. We changed the tyres and the setup at every opportunity and it paid dividends until bad luck hit us”.