The Reds vs Yellows Rally war of the 1990s looked like coming back when this year’s Indian National Rally Championship was announced with a clear federation and good sponsors in place. But for this year’s Speed INRC, at the moment it will be Reds vs Reds as Team MRF will face resistance from Red Rooster in the six-round championship that begins in Coimbatore on June 26. Team MRF (Reds) and JK Tyre (Yellows) were engaged in the bitterest battles in the Indian National Rally Championship in the 1990s with the baton of title changing hands regularly as both the teams had the cream of drivers in the country in their ranks. However, the yellows stopped their rally stint in 1999 and the reds dominated for the next nine years.
Of course, the yellows staged a comeback in 2006, but only for a year with VR Naren Kumar at the wheel but they had problems all through. Even Team MRF took a break for a year when there was uncertainty in the official control in the last two years. “We had our apprehensions before deciding to take part in this year’s rally and we had made it clear to FMSCI (official body) that unless they had the transponders to track the cars and note the timings automatically, we were not going to be there,” Team MRF motorsports head Anthony Rodricks revealed to The Times of India. With the Indian National Rally Championship wearing a new look with a strong backing, Team MRF’s condition was met and the Chennai-based team has now finalised a four-member team for this year’s Speed INRC with the talented Gaurav Gill as their main driver.
Team MRF is pretty happy with the level-playing field offered to the drivers by the new set-up. “The Chairman of the FMSCI Rally Commission Praneet Perumal met us and assured all drawbacks of rallying in the past had been addressed and many rectified.The use of Tag Heuer timing equipment is a major step forward as this will bring in fair play to all competitors,” explained Rodricks. “Safety of competitors will be vastly improved with the use of imported extrication equipments, vehicle tracking software and trauma-care in all ambulances in attendance at every stage.” Rodricks added the offer of the rights of the INRC to a promoter was a plausible move by FMSCI. “With commercial interests in mind it will become necessary for promoters to up the standards to a higher level.”
At the same time, JK Tyre is also happy with the new framework but they will not be ready for rallying until early neat year. “We don’t have the cars, we don’t have the drivers and we don’t have the tuners as well,” Sanjay Sharma, head of motorsports, JK Tyre, told The Times of India from New Delhi. “Former rally champion Leelakrishnan was our tuner and he is now with Red Rooster. Hopefully, we will be ready by neat year or at he end of the year,” added Sharma. Stay tuned for the big battle in 2010.