The rough and twisty estate terrain all but emerged winner as it claimed as many as 19 victims by way of retirements out of 38 starters.
The tight coffee estate roads where the three Special Stages were run twice, caught out many competitors. Asia Pacific champion Gaurav Gill (co-driver Musa Sherif) and Samir Thapar (GS Mann) of JCT Rallying, were among those to retire due to mechanical problems while young Dean Mascarenhas and his co-driver Shanmuga SM rolled their Volkswagen Polo, but walked out unscathed.
Karamjit Singh and his fellow-Malaysian co-driver Jagdev Singh were in a class of their own and were quickest on the day with a timing of one hour, 27 minutes, 58.2 seconds at the end of leg one of the rally which is a candidate event for a round of 2014 Asia Cup.
"We did SS 4 and 7 on three cylinders. We are working on it, but we are lucky to be leading," said Karamjit Singh.
Meanwhile, Rao (Satish Rajagopal), driving a Volkswagen Polo, put in a grand performance as he nearly matched pace with Karamjit Singh towards the end of the day to take the lead in INRC Overall and 1600cc class, clocking 01:29.42.7 for a lead of over four minutes.
"My car was just perfect today. After the last round, we put back the original engine that came with the second-hand car that I bought, and had more power than in the previous rounds. Also, the MRF tyres were just too good as the level of tyre wear was low," said Rao.
Provisional results (Leg 1):
INRC Overall: Arjun Rao / Satish Rajagopal (VW Polo) 1 (1hr, 29mins, 42.7secs); Vikram Devadasen / Ashwin Naik (Mitsubishi Cedia) 2 (01:34:12.3); Suhem MK / Jeevarathinam (Maruti Baleno) 3 (01:34:19.1).
INRC 2000cc: Vikram Devadasen / Ashwin Naik (Mitsubishi Cedia) 1 (01:34:12.3); Dr Bikku Babu / George Verghese (Mitsubishi Cedia) 2 (01:34:44.6); Prithvi Dominic / Ravindra MS (Mitsubishi Cedia) 3 (01:34:53.3).
INRC 1600cc: Arjun Rao / Satish Rajagopal (VW Polo) 1 (1hr, 29mins, 42.7secs); Sirish Chandran / Nikhil Pai (Slideways Industries, VW Polo) 2 (01:34:45.8); Hrishikesh Thackersey / Ninad Mirajgaonkar (VW Polo) 3 (01:40:05.5).
JINRC: Suhem MK / Jeevarathinam (Maruti Baleno) 1 (01:34:19.1); Rohan Pawar / Arjun Mehta (Slideways Industries, VW Polo) 2 (01:37:44.0); Dhruva C / Roopesh BC (Maruti Esteem) 3 (01:38:55.7).
SUV NRC: Sunny Sidhu / PVS Murthy (Mahindra Adventure Rally, XUV 500) 1 (01:31:24.8); Lohitt Urs / Bonnie Thomas (Mahindra Adventure Rally, XUV 500) 2 (01:36:03.4).
IRC: Karamjit Singh / Jagdev Singh (Slideways Industries, VW Polo R2) 1 (01:27:58.2); Sumit Panjabi / Venu Ramesh Kumar (Mitsubishi Cedia) 2 (01:40:15.0); Shyam Chellappan / Sob George (Maruti Baleno) 3 (01:52:46.4).
--IANS (Posted on 20-12-2013)