Madras, April 21: The MRF 45th South India Rally, which doubles as the first round of the 2022 Indian National Rally Championship (INRC 2022) and is scheduled to run from April 22-24, has attracted 48 entrants and is headed by the newly crowned 2021 Overall National. champion, Aditya Thakur of Himachal (co-driver Virender Singh).
Thakur, who also topped the INRC-3 category last season, has moved up to the INRC-2 category in the new season.
The field for the three-day event also includes a handful of other top contenders such as Delhi-based seven-time national champion Gaurav Gill (Musa Sherif, Kasargod), round-winner Karna Kadur (Nikhil Pai) of Bengaluru of the Asian Cup. the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship at the same venue last month, and defending INRC-2 champion Fabid Ahmer (Sanath G) from Kerala.
The MMRT circuit in Sriperumbudur, around 35km from Chennai, will be the center of the action, hosting the Super Special Stage and one of two Special Stages.
The total distance of the Rally is about 300 km which includes about 123 km of competitive section. Competitors will reconnoitre the course on April 22, while the Stages will be run over the next two days.
The 2021 season, delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions, was completed last month. It meant a very short turnaround period of around three weeks before the start of the 2022 season. Still, the rally has attracted a considerable number of entrants.
Notable absentees are England’s Amittrajit Ghosh and co-driver Ashwin Naik of Mangaluru in INRC’s top overall category, who have been among the top title contenders but opted out of this weekend’s rally. .
Madras Motor Sports Club (MMSC) President Ajit Thomas said: “After the challenges we faced over the last two years, it bodes well for the sport that INRC has a new promoter. We also thank MRF Tires for partner with the event. We hope to see a full season of rallying like during the years before the pandemic.”