Bengaluru’s Pragathi Gowda kept Indian hopes
alive in the FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final as she qualified for Stage-3
of the competition at the Madras International Circuit, here on Tuesday.
Australia’s Jaidyn Gluskie was overall the quickest with a blistering best
lap of 01min, 34.08secs over a 1,300-metre course.
The 25-year old Pragathi, who clocked a best lap of 01:41.96, was among
12 qualifiers for the final round which will be run on Wednesday when the
Asia-Pacific champion is decided.
“I am extremely happy to qualify for tomorrow’s Stage-3. The conditions
in the afternoon when I drove were much better than in the morning and
I was able to perform well. Yesterday was my first experience driving a
Cross Car, but now, I am a little more comfortable with it and happy for
the opportunity to compete at this competition,” said Pragathi.
Earlier, six other Indians – Harkrishan Wadia, Arnav Pratap Singh, Tarushi
Vikram, Vedant Jouhari, Jasmehar Jubbal and Jeremy Miller–were knocked
Of the lot, Wadia, the quickest Indian yesterday, was distinctly unlucky to
miss the qualification for Stage-3 as he was docked a two-second penalty
for knocking down a couple of marker cones in his second timed-lap which
put him third in the group, just one second behind Sri Lanka’s Eshan Pieris.
“In the first timed-lap, the gear slipped into neutral and I lost time. In my
second outing, I think I knocked down a couple of marker cones. But
overall, it was a good experience,” said a disappointed Harkrishan.
As in the case of Wadia, much was expected of Arnav Pratap Singh who
had fared well in Stage-1 yesterday, but a couple of driving errors during
the timed runs today cost the Delhi driver.
The 25 contestants in Stage-2 today were divided into five groups of five
each. The two quickest in each group advanced to Stage-3. They were
joined by two others who topped a modified version of Nacon’s WRC 9
game in the Digital Challenge, open to the drivers eliminated after Stage-2.
The conditions, following overnight rain, were tricky. The slush caught
out many drivers, especially those starting down the order. The mud
thrown up by the early cars rendered the terrain, which was a mix of
tarmac and dirt, slippery, putting a premium on car control. The terrain
improved considerably later in the day under bright sunshine and the
drivers were able to clock faster times.
The winners of the Asia-Pacific region will be announced tomorrow
after all the drivers have been interviewed by the four-member Jury
comprising FIA Rally Director Andrew Wheatley (Chairman), Pernilla
Solberg, Maciej Woda and Guy Botterill (Driver Advisor).