Thierry Neuville wins Rally Italia, Sardegna || WRC – 2018

Thierry Neuville won Rally Italia Sardegna with a mere 0.7sec ahead of the defending World champion driver Sebastien Ogier in the final competitive Special (Power) Stage of the event. Ogier who won 4 specials in this event, while the Championship leader Neuville took it to the extreme with a total of 9 stage wins to extend his title race and now stands with a healthy 27 points after the win at Sardegna.

Esapekka Lappi took the final step to the podium, with almost 2 minutes down the top fighting duo. In WRC 2, Jan Kopecky won the rally, while Ole Christian Veiby finished second with a little over 3 minutes to Jan, while Nicolas Ciamin finished third in the spot. India’s WRC2 debuting driver, Gaurav Gill had his share of hard-luck as he had to retire after a hard jump (same as Ott Tanak) his car-info displayed up oil-pressure issues and slipping to 43rd overall by the end of the day. He bounced back on Saturday & Sunday and did a commendable finish by moving up to 28th overall at the end.

In WRC3, Jean Franceschi won the rally, Tade Lario & Louise Cook finished 2nd & 3rd respectively.

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Sebastien Ogier leads overnight, Rally Sardegna Italy

Sebastien Ogier leads overnight at Rally Sardegna, Italy by the end of the opener spectator special stage at Ittiri Arena Show. The lead could be just too title to comprehend, with just 2km of competition compared to the 124+ kilometres that lie ahead on tomorrow’s action. Andreas Mikkelsen and the new championship leader Thierry Neuville are closely behind with just a fraction of a second behind Ogier.

In WRC2, Ole Christian Vieby leads team-mate Jan Kopecky with just under a second gap, while Stephane Lefebvre closely behind. New to the WRC2 scene, Indian driver Gaurav Gill from team MRF Tyres is in 9th position with the timing, however, he is not eligible under point scorer for the championship.

Jean-Baptiste Franceschi leads WRC3, while Louise Cook the only women driver, is trailing in 4th position.

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Season 5 of RFC India [Press Release]

41 teams gear up for Season 5 of RFC India, to be held in Goa from 21st July to 28th July

Cougar Motorsport also announces the inaugural edition of the Rainforest Trophy India, to be held in Arunachal Pradesh in partnership with MOCA from 16thOctober to 20th October

New Delhi, June 4, 2018: Cougar Motorsport Pvt. Ltd. is back with the most awaited off-road motorsport battle on Indian soil! Season 5 of RFC India is going to be held in Goa over a period of 8 days from 21st – 28th July, 2018.

This year, 41 teams from across the country, including a women’s team, are going to compete for the coveted trophy. This includes 10 teams from Kerala, 7 from Telangana, 4 teams each from Karnataka and Maharashtra, 3 teams each from Chandigarh, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Delhi and 1 from Haryana. Moreover, for the first time in the history of RFC India, 3 teams from Arunachal Pradesh will be travelling to Goa to participate in the Mecca of India off-roaders. This will be the first time when teams from North-East India will be competing in RFC India.

Launched in 2014, RFC India is one of the top three RFC Global events among the 51 editions held across 21 countries and enjoys a cult following in the Indian and international offroading arena. It is an extreme off-road motorsport competition that tests the contestants’ driving and vehicle recovery skills, team spirit along with their physical and mental strength under extreme off-road conditions. Each team, comprising a driver and a co-driver, undertakes 26 Special Stages (SS) or challenges during the course of the competition.The event follows a point system, where the team with maximum points at the end of the competition claims the RFC India Champion title. The total benefits to the top Indian driver of RFC India 2018 will amount to USD 10,000, including an automatic free entry worth USD 3,900 to the RFC Mother Event, to be held in Malaysia at the end of the year.

Mr. Ashish Gupta, Founder and Director, Cougar Motorsport, said, “In the last 4 editions of RFC India, we have witnessed some exceptional offroading talent and I am confident that this trend will continue this year as well. It’s overwhelming to see such a tremendous response to RFC India 2018 registrations. We filled all the available slots within 72 hours of posting the registrations call on Facebook in February. I am humbled by the immense love & acceptance from the entire offroading fraternity and promise to bring a better, tougher and a more gripping competition this year.”

Tan Eng Joo (co-driver Tan Choon Hong) of Malaysia, representing Force Motors, emerged as the winner of the first two editions of RFC India. However, at the third edition in 2016 he was dethroned by Gurmeet Virdi (co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung) of Chandigarh in a tough-fought battle. The first Indian to claim the top-spot in RFC India, Gurmeet repeated his success at RFC India 2017. As the margin between top contenders for the RFC India trophy narrows every year, it would be interesting to see who braves out the odds to claim the RFC India 2018 Champion title.

Concurrently, Cougar Motorsport has announced that the maiden Rainforest Trophy (RFT) India, an extreme offroading adventure expedition, will be held in Arunachal Pradesh from 16th October to 20th October. The organization has partnered with the Manabhum Offroaders Club of Arunachal (MOCA) for conducting this event. It is a non-racing event that was launched by the Rainforest Challenge Founder Luis J.A. Wee in Malaysia last year. RFT India is going to be similar in nature to RFT Malaysia as well as the Borneo Safari.

The underlying idea behind RFT India is to bring off-road adventure seekers from across the country on a single platform, wherein they work in teams to maneuver their way through natural obstacles, as they traverse distances through rough trails. Modeled into an expedition format rather than a competition one, RFT India 2018 will be held over a period of five days.

Explaining about the maiden RFT India edition, Mr. Ashish Gupta said, “There are many offroading enthusiasts who want to experience extreme 4X4 adventures, but not in a competition like RFC India because of the extreme vehicle modification requirements and the amount of time one has to spend training for the competition. Moreover, due to limited participation slots, many entries fail to make it to the RFC India participants list every year. So, in order to extend the sport and give a thrilling experience to Indian offroaders, we are bringing the Rainforest Trophy to India. I am confident that it will be a giant leap towards making international level of offroading experience accessible to more people in India.”

RFC India will, however, continue to be the flagship event for the Rainforest Challenge franchise in India. With an exciting mix of some fresh faces and several battle-hardened RFC India veterans, it will be interesting to see who wins the coveted RFC India Champion trophy this year.

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Amittrajit & Ashwin win Acropolis Rally, in ERC3

Amittrajit Ghosh co-driven by Ashwin Naik won the Acropolis Rally in their debut ERC event, in the ERC3 category they had entered. It was surprising for the locals and media to learn someone as far as from India had won the event. Ghosh had secured the lead after Artur Muradian retired due to mechanical failure in their Peugeot 208 R2, who was only around 2 seconds ahead of the Indians.

Speaking to the ERC radio at the finish line, ecstatic Ghosh said,

“Coming here with an older generation R2, the goal was to finish. In the back of my mind I knew that if we got to the finish we’d be on the podium, but yesterday morning when I was only 2s behind [Artur] Muradian in the Peugeot I knew I could do it,”

Bruno Magalhães with co-driver Hugo Magalhães won the event overall in a Škoda Fabia R5, while Tibor jun. Érdi  and co-driver György Papp won the ERC2 in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X. Only women driver, Spanish Emma Falcón and with co-driver Eduardo Gonzalez topped the ladies category.

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Smart driving grants Ghosh the lead in ERC3, Acropolis Rally

Amittrajit Ghosh & Ashwin Naik move up to the top as the Indians adopt safety first approach in the gruelling greek rocky gravel roads. Both the crew debuting in ERC at Acropolis Rally, in the ERC3 class are now leading it. As reported by Eurosport media, he is the excerpts of it below.

“The whole plan for the event was not to take any risks but drive at a decent pace, so we were surprised to see that we were only 2 seconds off the fastest [in SS3],” said Ghosh.

“For the first 7-8 km [in SS4] we took it almost at recce speed as I knew if you go hot there, you’re not going to finish that stage. When I saw our competitor [Chrysostomos Karellis] unfortunately parked, I knew the call was right.”

Though he lost 17 seconds to previous leader Artur Muradian in SS4, he then moved to the front when a wheel bolt failure ended Muradian’s day in the following stage.

“In the next stage at the first corner he was parked,” said Ghosh “I immediately backed off because it doesn’t make any sense to push, and this car can’t take it. If you drive anything more than 70%, I don’t think any car is going to finish.”

Another 4 stages will decide the winner today, where Ghosh & Naik are enjoying a comfortable lead over 2 minutes overnight.

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Gaurav Gill all set to debut in WRC2 at Rally Italia, Sardegna

Gaurav Gill all set to debut in WRC2 at Rally Italia, Sardegna behind the wheels of M-Sport prepared Ford Fiesta R5 rally car backed by his long term racing partner, MRF Racing. Much experienced Glenn Macneall will be co-driving for Gill starting from Sardegna, to a total of 4 events in this 2018 season at the WRC arena.

After bagging 3 APRC titles (2013, 2016 & 2017), WRC opportunity happened to Gaurav Gill when MRF decided to up-their-ante from the APRC arena to the WRC battlefield. Gill always craved to be at the top level competition to prove his mettle against the world’s top drivers. The opportunity came calling to him when he is at his best form, to tackle the hard competition that he would be facing up on the Italian island, Sardenia.

Not completely new to WRC as he had debuted at Wales Rally, GB in 2008 & done a couple of rallies in 2009 in a production class (formerly PWRC) Subaru Impreza STi N14 for Team Sidvin India. Now almost a decade later, Gill is very excited to begin his fresh outing with the new generation WRC2 rally car.

“It is a huge honour for me to represent Team MRF at World Rally Championship level,” Gill said.

“MRF tyres has evolved a lot over the years and being the best tyre manufacturer in the region, WRC is best platform to showcase the product development.

“To achieve what no Indian tyre manufacturer has ever done before and compete in what it is considered to be the most difficult motorsport championship in the world, is a huge achievement.”

Rally Sardenia begins on Friday, 7th June & concludes on Sunday 10th, 2018. After the first outing in Sardenia, Gill will be racing at Neste Rally Finland, Dayinsure Wales Rally GB and Kennards Hire Rally Australia, rallies for MRF racing in the WRC 2018 season.

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Amittrajit Ghosh & Ashwin Naik duo debut at Arcopolis Rally, ERC

After Gaurav Gill’s confirmation of entry to the WRC2 category, it is now the turn of his INRC team-mate Amittrajit Ghosh & Ashwin Naik duo to debut at Acropolis Rally in the FIA’s European Rally Championship. Ghosh entered ERC with Rally Talsi, being his first event in Europe, he did well along with Latvian co-driver Mezaks Mikelis in the Latvian Rally Championship. Adapting to the left-hand-drive rally car for the first time, Rally Talsi was more of a testing ground for the Kolkata lad, at which he proved to be successful.

“Rally Talsi helped me a lot in getting ready for Acropolis. I am mainly getting used to a left-hand drive car and understanding how to set up the car according to my driving style,” Ghosh told TOI after finishing his recce on Wednesday.

“I had a lot of fun driving on the Latvian roads which were fast and flowing with lots of crests. It was a good learning experience and a great confidence booster for me,” he stated.

Despite being his first ever outing in the gravel roads of Greece, he is holding on the third position in his class in ERC3 after SS2 on Friday 2nd June 2018, with 10 more special stages to conclude on till Sunday.

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