Popular Rally back in the National circuit after 10 years

The Popular Rally will have its ceremonial flag-off at the Le Meridien in Kochi on December 13 and will return to Kochi on December 16, with a super special stage in the city that evening.

Multiple Asia-Pacific Rally champion Gaurav Gill will be among the star attractions at the Popular Rally. (File Image)   -  M. Periasamy

Despite the Popular Rally being a huge hit last year when it returned after a nine-year break, its chief promoter John K. Paul had said then that he was not keen on the event being a part of the National championship. Though the rally attracted many big names, it was not part of any circuit last year.

There is a pleasant change now and John Paul, the managing director of Popular Vehicles, confirmed that this year’s Popular Rally, which will run in Kerala from December 13 to 16, would be a part of the MRF Indian National Rally Championship. The event will be the championship’s final round.

“The INRC wanted us in and we are now back in the Nationals after 10 years,” said Paul, in an event to launch the rally’s 24th edition, here on Thursday.

The rally will have its ceremonial flag-off at the Le Meridien in Kochi on December 13 but the competitive part will begin only on December 15 at Kuttikanam in Idukki District and nine special stages on smooth tarmac will be run around this hilly town. The rally will return to Kochi on December 16 and there will be a super special stage in the city that evening.

"Gaurav Gill, a multiple Asia-Pacific Rally champion, international Amittrajit Ghosh and top drivers like Karna Kadur, Dean Mascarenhas, Rahul Kantharaj and National autocross champion Bikku Babu will be in action driving for corporate teams like Mahindra, Volkswagen and Toyota," said George Varghese from the Southern Adventures and Motorsports which will organise the FMSCI event.