When he crashed and went off the road a few minutes after the start of the 25 Popular Rally here on Saturday, Chetan Shivram thought his stunning run in the Champions Yacht Club FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship was over.
The 41-year-old came to Kottayam as the National championship's overall leader, surprisingly in an INRC-3 car – a lower-power vehicle compared to the INRC cars – but the crash gave a chance for the others behind him, like Younus Ilyas and Bikku Babu, to grab the national trophy.
But Shivram and his brother Dilip Sharan, who is his navigator, and his team worked hard last night and brought the Polo back to run the championship's final day on Sunday. And the three points he earned in the second leg today helped the Bengaluru driver claim his maiden overall National title with 78 points.
“The entire rear end of our car had to be changed. Honestly, when we crashed yesterday, I thought it was all over,” said Shivram, from Team Akshara who is supported by MRF, whose victories in the Championship's last two rounds, in Coimbatore and Bengaluru, gave him a huge lead over the rest.
“For us to win the overall title in an INRC-3 car is the biggest achievement of our lives. It's definitely a dream come true.”
Meanwhile, after all the problems earlier this season, everything fell in place for Gaurav Gill as he retained the Popular Rally title for his first victory in the National championship this season. It was also Gill's fifth triumph in Popular, which is supported by the Kuttukaran Group.
“It's been a very hard year because it's a new car, we knew it's going to be a big challenge to develop a car which has never seen this side of rallying. It's a great way to end the year,” said former Asia Pacific champion Gill (navigator Musa Sherif), the Team Mahindran driver who is supported by JK Tyre.
Bikku Babu, who topped the INRC-2 class here, and Dean Mascarenhas finished second and third in the Popular Rally.
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