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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Pragathi Gowda, lone Indian to make Stage-3 cut, Aussie Jaidyn Gluskie quickest overall


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).

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