CHENNAI: AS he sat down for the press briefing ahead of the flag-off ceremony of the South India Rally the first stage of the revamped Champions Yacht Club-FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship 2019 Gaurav Gill had the attention of the entire room.
From reporters asking him about the future of motorsports in the country to star-struck fellow rallyists querying him for tips, everyone was clear who the star of the show was. After all, Gaurav has triumphed at this stage six times.
And judging from the way he went about his business on Friday, Gaurav has enough fire in his belly to take a seventh title. The Mahindra Adventure driver, with Musa Sherif by his side, will be competing in a new car, the XUV300. But he will have to beat out stiff competition from what is the largest field in the championships’ recent history.
As many as 51 top rallyists from across the country, fielded by five major teams, are participating this time.
For Gill, the event will mark a first outing since his return to the JK Tyres fold. “I am looking forward to this season as I will not only be in a new car but also on new tyres,” Gill said. “I have tested the car and it’s the best in the class. I am sure it’s going to suit my style of driving.”
The rally will see teams fight it out over a total distance of 298.7km, with as many as 117.33km earmarked for 11 special stages on gravel and dirt tracks. Saturday and Sunday will see five stages each.
“This is a perfect start to the championship,” promoter Vamsi Merla said. “We have already had the most number of entries and the biggest crowd at an INRC, making it that much more thrilling for all of us,” he added.