Bengaluru: Chetan Shivram and Bikku Babu took advantage of the pull-outs by most of the heavyweights to stage a dramatic comeback for MRF in the Champions Yacht Club FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship here on Sunday.
The speedy but shrewd duo made it a spectacular 1-2 for the Reds as the carefully laid out but treacherous stages wiped out anybody who dared to challenge them. Starting from the fifth and fourth positions, Shivram and Babu preserved their cars before going all out in the final stage to claim the mantle of winner and runner-up in the K-1000 Rally.
Defending champion and overnight leader Gaurav Gill was among the biggest casualties as he cried out in the morning itself, with his car refusing to even start after the belting it had received on Day 1. He and all his favoured JK Tyre Motorsport teammates bit the dust, allowing a free run to the MRF men.
Akshara's Chetan Shivram, who had won Round 2 as well in almost similar fashion, emerged as the overall INRC Championship leader with this victory. He (with Dilip Sharan as co-driver) claimed his own category too, the INRC 3, with an overall timing of 1:47:37:300 hours.
That was just 12 seconds faster than Bikku Babu (with Milen George) of Team Champions, who pursued him relentlessly all through the day. Babu finished ahead of Sriram in the day's first stage, SS5, and even beat him to the post in the last one, SS8, but that wasn't good enough to topple the latter. It, however, fetched him the INRC 2 trophy. "The top guns may not have fired today but we couldn't have hoped for a more thrilling finish. It was good to see so many of the INRC 2 and 3 teams making a mark here, ahead of the known champions," Hema Malini Nidamanuri, co-promoter of the INRC, said. IANS