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Old 29th April 2017, 15:54   #1
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Default Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-fb_img_1481390889854.jpg


Its been quiet some time since I wrote in length and well do I have a juicy story to back it off. Revolves around my debut rally participation and a much deserved podium finish. The crux of the story is the COFFEE DAY INDIA RALLY 2016, which was the last round of APRC – Asia Pacific Rally Championship held in the serene town of Chikmangaluru in South India.
The coffee plantations of the world famous Coffee Day Brand played host to this rally and it was a truly remarkable event in all sorts. Held from Dec 1st till Dec 5th 2016

My journey starts with a call on one fine day in October 2016 by the famed veteran rallyist’s Mr. Sanjay Agarwal. The good news was that Asia Pacific Rally was being held in India from Dec 1st till 5th and the support calendar of INRC scheduled to be held on the same dates was contemplating on including the GYPSY category. The FMSCI and MSCC (Motorsports Club of Chikamangaluru) need min of 5 entries to form the Gypsy class.

The call from Sanjay was to enquire if I was interested to participate since I had a rally gypsy with which I had won some autocross events. Am sure everyone will agree Rally means funds and I was skeptical at first unsure of how am going to manage such big moolah across. I did not give Sanjay a heads up right on the call and told him need a few days to sort out the financial implications.

Matter of fact, all I had was just a gypsy with a valid roll cage and valid seat belts. The list which needed to be filled are as below

• Seats (FIA Approved)
• Suit- 3 layer – FIA Approved and non-karting
• Helmets – SFI rated
• Intercom
• Dual shocks
• Rally tires
• Body strengthening and fire extinguishers
• Re-paint (Vehicle needs to be presentable)
• Reliable navigator and his overalls (Suit, helmets)
• Recce car
• Fire extinguishers
• Entry fees
• Fuel bills
• Leave from work for 6 days
• Travel and stay bills for these 6 days

With the list growing, my concerns on the funds mounted. Back to back wins on two autocross in the month of Oct and Nov pepped me up and also brought out a good reputation amongst the Motorsports clan, I slowly approached 15 of my close knit friends and requested sponsorships nothing more than 3k per head. To be really honest 12 of the 15 gave me more than I had expected and this got me going. Mr. Vijay Kumar from Swatik Fabs was the first corporate individual I approached and he readily cut me a 4 zero cheque. Funds problem solved to an extent.


The people who made this rally possible for me

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161203_151422.jpgs[/b]


Rally Build

Left the car with my well known Rally tunerc – Raj Nagraj (Bro’s garage) for the rally preparations. This was 45 days prior to D day and he had his own battles to fight it out. Tinker, painter, boys etc etc, none worked in his favor and he was juggling 4 rally cars for the #India Rally.

The gypsy before the build

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161111_211021-copy.jpg



Constant follow ups, mid way had borrowed a set of seats from my close friend, got them re-upholstered and that friend without my knowledge bares into the workshop one day and take these seats away stating some illogical reasons. One friendship goes for a toss. Running around, here and there, hearing the words, it will be done today, tomorrow etc etc. Anger turns into patience and patience gets burnt into perseverance. Slowly things start falling in place, I managed to acquire

• Suit – my twins gifts me a set from USA along with gloves – Alphinestar, three layered suit
• Seats – nagraj arranges for the seats with no extra cost ( borrowed for one event)
• Intercom– repaired an old set which I already had
• Navigator – Got a good lead thru another rally driver (Ashwin Reddy), that his navigator is available since Ashwin would not be driving. Navigators name was Suraj Shetty – Pretty awesome chap, no frills guy. Told him my scenario, he dint expect a penny and was ready to chip in his bit to accommodate this rally.
• Helmets – Did some golmaal
• Rally tires – got a set of used 4 tires from another good friend. Had money to buy only those 4, decided to use my All terrain tires incase there was a need

The rally Itinerary was as below

Day one – Dec 1st – Documentation
Day two – Dec 2nd – Recce for Drivers and Scrutiny for cars and overalls (Tuners handle this bit) ceremonial start of rally
Day three – Dec 3rd - Drivers briefing and start of SSS Rally Day one – stage 1
Day four - Dec 4st - Rally stages – Stage 2, 3, 4 – Service break – Stage 5 & 6
Day five – Dec 5th – Rally stages – stage 7 & 8 – results and podium and party
Day six – Dec 6th – Have a good sleep and head back to Bangalore
Was supposed to leave for chikmanagaluru by 5.30 AM on Dec 1st and I start for chikmangalure by 9.30 PM. Something’s are better not said and finally the gypsy was finally ready only at Dec 1st, 9.30 PM at Bangalore and I started for my debut rally driving it all the way to reach chikamanaglur.



Rally day One – Dec 1nd 2016

Since day one was only documentation, realizing the paucity of job at hand with the gypsy build going on full swing, I had sent off my documents with another driver to be given for my navigator (had asked him to reach chikmanagaluru along with few other competitors) and finish the documentations. The navi also manages to pick up the recce vehicle (also a gypsy) and fuel it full tank for the recce next day

Do note: I had still not met my navi in person until Dec 2nd 3 AM, he was just helping me with all the knowledge in hand without even meeting the driver.

The car situation on Dec 1st Morning at 8.30 AM

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-img20161201wa0009.jpg


Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-img20161201wa0011-copy.jpg



Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-img20161201wa0007-copy.jpg


The car at 9 Pm on the same day

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161201_224702.jpg


Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161201_224652-copy.jpg



Rally day two – Dec 2nd 2016

I reach chikmanagalur driving all the of 250 kms at 3.30 am, had booked a hotel prior and the navigator was staying there, grabbed a quick one hour sleep and was to roll for recce at 5.30 am. The winter is cold and its still dark when we roll out for the recce. A rally comprises of the following stages for a rally car and the recce must be noted on the same terms

• Parc Ferme - the place where all rally cars are mandatorily parked, once parked in Parc Ferme, no one can touch the car including the driver. The driver and navi are allowed inside the Parc Ferme to take his car out only 10 mins prior to the start of his stage. There will be 2-3 Parc Ferme on basis of the requirement of the rally. But by the end of the day, the cars must be parked in such dedicated Parc Ferme only. The rally for any individual starts and ends with the car parked, starting and reaching back to Parc Ferme.

• Service park - post taking the car from Parc Ferme, you will have to drive into the service park, where your team is allowed to tinker with the car and get it refueled at the dedicated fuel bay

• Transport stage – Post the service, you will have to drive to the stages, this drive will be thru normal govt roads, thus the name transport stage. Here there is speed limit restrictions. The transport stages are a nightmare since these are mostly thru villages and one tends to get confused and lost amongst the maze of village roads. Another nightmare for rally drivers are that all of us will be driving on rally tires which has very low braking on tarmac roads and tends to wear out soon if driven on tarmac

• Special stages – This is where the action lies – these stages are closed and each vehicle is let with a gap of 3 mins accordingly to their start number. Every corner, every bump, slope, uphill, downhill, right hander, left hander, braking point, flat out stretches, everything must be noted down, cross checked and dictated. The navigator is the MAN here, in my case, the poor guy had bitten more than he had asked for.
o Firstly we made a mistake by taking an soft top gypsy as recce car
o Secondly it was a GYPSY – petrol
o Thirdly – Dust, red soil and more dust

My recce scenes

• We start the recce at 5.30 and both of us are shivering in the cold

• The sunlight is still an hour away and in the darkness, we start making reference points from Parc Ferme to service park and then from service park to stage one
o Mistake 1

• Recce for stage two which was a good 60 kms from service parks starts sharply at 6.30 AM

• While doing the second stage recce, I get a nerve wracking call from my tuner who at that time was involved in passing the car and overhauls scrutiny check. The overhauls had a major issue
o Suit is not being accepted, even though its 3 layers and FIA approved with the latest norms
o Helmets to are not being accepted
o Seat belt cutters not available in the car
o With these 3 items not passing the scrutiny, my rally plans stand washed down the drain

• Mind goes numb, try calling up reference for any available standby suit, helmet etc. Tuner says he will handle the seat belt cutter issue.

• Must have called around 20 – 30 people asking for these two items, none materializes. All this while doing the recce.

• A notable point here was since the navi was an experienced guy, he started taking down notes on his own and let me do the driving and issue handling

• Midway thru stage 3 recce we both are covered with dust from head to toe, it looked like we had walk thru a storm. We get a chance to re-group with other drivers, wash the face and eat from biscuits

• Am all frustrated, shoot off an email to alphinestar asking them to share the suit configurations etc. Asked other drivers for help. A ray of hope emerged with few saying that few extra suits were available, but size unknown and there was a rent attached to it. I had no option but had to pick one up. Helmet hungama still stood unsorted.

• Recce for stage 4 starts and completes with the same sort of hungama happening around, the tuner is also not able to help much in terms of suit and helmets.

• While I enter stage 5 recce, in middle of this commotion realized the fuel level was low and had to refuel if I want to continue again. This was around 12.30 Noon

• By gods grace, no fuel station within the next 30 kms range, we are in middle of a remote town and I do not have enough time to drive 60kms up and down for fuel.

• Managed to procure around 20 liters of fuel from around 3 shops in the local town at a premium amount. Since we were short of time to complete the recce. We still had 4 stages to complete by 6 PM

• With no respite in sight for the helmets and suit bit, I finally gave up, spoke to myself that I shall finish the recce, head over to the official desk and see where the problem lies and try to sort them out. If things go beyond my control, then I will not participation in the rally was decided by my alter ego.

• Normally every stage must be done recce twice, once to do the pace notes and second time to check if the pace notes are in the right order and any corrections can be made during the same.

• With all this hungama, I couldn’t complete the 2nd round of recce for 5th and 6th stage. Dint want to take risk with my depleted fuel level and searching for the fuel also robbed me of time

• Finish the recce and headed back to the Rally headquarters to get some good news from the tuner that’s all the overhauls has passed the scrutiny and am good to go. Final sigh of relief

Day two end at a good note. The Car looks brilliant decked up with the rally stickers and I take the ceremonial start at 7 PM and park the car at Parc Ferme – this meant am OFFICIALLY a RALLY Driver



Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161203_143512-copy.jpg


Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161203_143459-copy.jpg




Post the ceremonial start, the car were parked in the Parc Ferme near the Rally Head Quarters (HQ)


Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161204_200212-copy.jpg


Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161204_200255-copy.jpg


Rally day Three – Dec 3rd 2016

Due to the fading daylight on day 2 at recce, the final SSS (Stage 1) recce was pushed to early morning of day 3. The SSS was the main attraction in #India Rally, it was held in Amby Valley School grounds with a spectator count of 5000 people who had turned up to view the spectacle. The SSS was supposed to start at 1 PM, thus the recce and drivers briefing was packed before 11.00 am.

SSS Recce – woke up at 6 AM and headed out for the recce, the drive was short, around 10 kms from the hotel, reached the school and saw 3 vehicles are already doing the same. The track was built on the school football ground. Took my start for the recce and since this stage is more or less the autocross format, the navi opted to just sit and observe without any pace notes. The tracks were woven and looped like a noodle, we finished the same without any fuss and headed back to the hotel.

Had breakfast and headed towards the drivers briefing (mandatory) which was again within the 10 kms from our hotel. In the briefing, we were noted on any changes to the tracks, etc and also were requested to park our rally cars in the designated Parc Ferme at the AV school by 12.30 to avoid late entry due to traffic pile up.

Things were smooth till this time. The car was running perfect, was allowed to pick the car up from rally HQ and drive to the SSS Parc Ferme which was a 5 kms drive, went in parked the car was just about to step outside the parking lot, when a good friend and fellow competitor called me out asked me where was my SUIT. Told him it was inside the rally car, he gave me a stare and asked me to take it out asap, couldn’t understand the logic, but did as he said. Only to realize that we are allowed inside the PARC FERME exactly 10 mins prior to our start time, in that 10 mins both the navigator and driver, must be kitted, suited, seated, belted, with helmets, gloves and intercom. Which is nearly impossible for a diver to put his suit up in this time, thus the in timly advice by my friend saved my day.

The start order was released in the drivers briefing and it was a reverse order, i.e. there was 51 registered rally cars and car no 51 was to take the first run of the day in SSS. My number was 48, which meant I was the 4th guy on the track, thus had no time to view the run of any competitors prior to my start.

The start Order

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-img20161203wa0026.jpg



The gypsy class had five entries with one twin cam gypsy driven by Sanjay Agarwal and the rest 4 were bone stock.

Stage 1 – SSS – Ambey Valley School - Kitted, suited and buckled up I head from the Parc Ferme in my maiden rally with butterflies in my stomach, good that I hadn’t eat lunch and there was no prangs of hunger either. Car 51 takes the first star and butterflies feeling increases along with the heartbeat. I can hear the crowd cheer for every car that passes by and that’s making me even more nervous. Few veteran rallyist’s see me, pass some knowledge and wishes and that’s make me comfortable. Within the next 8 mins, am ready for my start.

o Before the start my navi asked me should he give me a count down and say GO, since am used to the autocross format tell him that’s not required, just a GO would suffice.

o The timer goes from 5,4,3,2,1,0,0,0 and then I heard my navi say GO. Realized later my reaction time was faster than his and we missed a good 1 sec on the start due to this.

o I do a flawless run, the ground feels just like what it was during the recce, the gypsy is sliding as per my wish and in the next 200 mtr I can see the checked flag, when suddenly I hear my nav shouting, ONE more LOOP, ONE more LOOP

o All thanks to the professional approach of my navi, since we had not made any pace notes, he was following the road book and realized midway that the entire SSS was 3 kms long and we had only completed around 2.2 kms , so where was the rest of .8kms?? this 0.8kms was to take one more loop around the noodle track

o The mistake we made was during the recce, we did not follow the road book, took an assumption that it’s a single loop track.

o Thanks to my stars, when I heard him shout, I was like what? he shouted back again, you have to take one more loop, take right. Blipped a gear down and turned the baby right just in time to enter the noddle loop track. Nerved and deterred finish the stage in 3 min 06 seconds.

o Congratulate the navi for his presence of mind and take this as a learning stride and head towards the Parc Ferme to park the baby safe and sound.

o All the gypsy’s finish their runs and I see myself placed second with Sanjay in the twin cam leading me by 9 sec’s and me leading the third place guy by 5 seconds.

o Headed to the see the SSS for the APRC cars and rest of our INRC drivers. To watch each driver throw the car around was a big delight. The entry and exit speeds of Honda city, polo’s, cedia’s was mind boggling

o The SSS was wrapped up by Gaurav Gill driving last in his Skoda RS and it was a pleasure to see all the 6 APRC drivers show their skill on the SSS.

It was around 5.30 pm by the time we all packed up from Ambey valley school and this is when I realized I missed not having close friends or family attending your maiden rally, not coz of the emotional connect but coz of transportation issues. Here I was 10 kms away from the hotel with no transportation in hand, all others had either their friends or family. My tuner was already in the hotel for a well-deserved rest, hop skip and jump got hold of a transport back to the hotel and just when it all seemed going good. The heavens opened up heavily. The rains meant two things, the track conditions and speeds are going to be different from the already prepared pace notes tomorrow

Entering the second loop just in time

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-received_727703324072046.jpg

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-received_727703314072047.jpeg


The holding area - part of parc ferme

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161203_123938-copy.jpg



Rally day Four – Dec 4th 2016

Start order is given and it is in ascending order, which means car no 1 will start first, Gill takes the start in the Skoda followed by IRC, INRC, INRC 2000, FMSCI Cup and last in this class were the gypsy boys. Sanjay Agarwal was to take the gypsy start first.

The stage 1 (SSS) was completed; stage 2, 3, and 4 was to be completed before lunch, where we had an option for 30 min service on the cars. Post picking the car up from Parc Ferme of SSS, we are to head directly to the service bay, refuel the car and head towards stage 2

Stage 2 – This was called Chettanahalli Stage – its 30 kms from the service park and each car was given 45 mins to reach the start of the stage. i.e. cover 30 kms in 45 kms, easy right, but not with village roads, stray cattle’s and rally tires. Not to mention, there will be hidden clerks of the course (coc) who will monitor if you are over speeding. Since this was the maiden APRC event for India, the organizers had left no stone unturned for mishap like road accidents or some village fury.

We reach the Chettanhalli stage well within the time, park at a distance before logging in our entry and have enough time to grab some biscuits for breakfast. Here I see the leading man in our group Sanjay trying to tighten the spare wheel, I head out to help him, for which he denies my help. For a moment was perplexed as of to why he was denying my help only to realize later that once your car leaves the service bay, taking any external help on your car will get your penalty points. The rules of FIA that governs this sport is that strict that even a friend closing a door for you might attract a penalty.

The stage start

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161204_102709-copy.jpg



Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161204_102648-copy.jpg



We take the stage start – this technically is my first rally stage debut. Navi is flawless, quickly adapts to my style of driving and his calls are to near perfect. But he is a little concerned about the speed, since all the other vehicles he has sat were rally cars, where you sit low and you don’t see the road. In the gypsy its vice versa, the road is clearly visible, thus the speeds are notable. Not that this made much difference to his calls, but the way I was cutting corners was making him a lil uncomfortable.

We finish stage in style, gave it all that I had and just as we headed to the stage exit to get the time card noted. Post taking the filled time card, while moving the car it jerked and stalled. The gypsy refused to start on crank again, tried it twice and no, not even a jerk. The navi poor guy removed his seat belt, disconnects the intercom, gets out of the car and pushes the car a bit, just a bit maybe one roll of the wheel and its fires up. He gets back in and we move to the stage 3 start.

Stage 3 – Stage was called Kumargode- Am angry with the car now, poor navi is sweating, gathers his wits and plonks the seat belts back in and is fiddling with the intercom connector. Am trying my best to help him and realized the importance of latest gadget, mine is an outdated intercom for a reason and quick accessibility was ONE. Finally we manage to get the connectors in place and take the stage 3 start, with both of us sweating profusely due to this unwanted tension. Stage 3 goes well too, with the navi now adapted to my style of driving and flicking of corners. By stage three, I had mastered the art of flicking the gypsy into a 90^ corner, I was getting better with each corners. We finish stage 3 and headed out to stage 4, the finals stage before noon post which we had service and lunch and regroup.

Stage 4 – Stage was called – Chandrapura - As we approach the stage entry, we got news that one of the APRC car has crashed in the stage and its delayed due to the recovery of that car. Here we get a chance to get outside the car and grab some redbull, while I was sipping my can, a bystanders brings my notice to the water spillage in the front, with a heavy heart open my bonnet only to realize the car is overheating, till then had completely failed to keep an eye on the temp gauge of the car. Seems the radiator was a fault, called my tuner up, he asked me to empty a bottle of water on the radiator, which seemed to work, and it brings down the heat considerably. He tells me to drive slow and nurse the car back to service, he will fix it up there. Not to push and lead to a breakage midway.


Once it gets into you head, that that car is damaged, emotionally it stays there, especially if you’re in the middle of an APRC rally stage. I pray to god and take the start of stage 4 and completely ease down the push, I was shifting gears for 4k rpm and not revving more than 4.5k at any point of stage, and at one corner I lost my rear tail and hit an estate fence, thus losing the entire bumper. This stage I am considerably slower, while the leading man sanjay was faster than me in the rest 3 stages by 10-15 seconds, he takes in a comfortable 2 min lead in this stage. We complete the stage and I inform the tuner, were are on our way back to service.

Bumper lost

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-received_727701984072180.jpg



Transport stage – Chandrapura to service park – This is where all the hell breaks loose, am dead tired post these stages and request my navi if he can drive. My man denies and says he isn’t comfortable driving a rally car, I have no option now, than to drive myself. We have 41kms to reach in 50 mins. The roads are completed tarmac and its mid noon around 12.30 the sun is blazing out and as I approach a corner I can see Sanjay and his car, something didn’t seem ok. His car also has problems, gives me a ray of hope. I overtake him on the transport stage and went ahead.

o On the way back, we come across a confusing fork junction, navi gives call to take the right, I diligently took that right and a lil further ahead, I realized that we were on the same road which lead to the first stage of the day, i.e. we were driving towards the stage two i.e. Chettanhalli. Enquired with the navi if the service park is shifted, he replied positive. I have a photographic memory and remember places very evidently.

o As I approach the chettali stage, I grow more concerned since am not seeing any other rally cars and my navi also looks confused.

o To make matters worse, I reach the Stage 2 only to realize the navi has given wrong call on the transport stage.

o Few corrections and we head back to service park, by now we had cover 45 kms in less than 30 mins; if not, for every minute I enter late into the service park, I get a 10 sec penalty against my time.

o That’s when I realized that all this while I was pushing the first place guy, I never bothered to look beyond my shoulder to see how much of lead I had from the rest of the pack, all that I knew was in SSS the third place guy was just below 10 secs behind me and that scared the shit outta me

o Drove the car like a mad man, with the navi not even uttering a word, as I approached the confusing fork junction again, I flipped the car into the corner completely in a rally mode failing to realized I was driving rally tires on the tarmac road. The car flinched and flexed with the front right wheel in the air, but the dual shocks held on but the damage was done.

o 5 kms post this flex, I felt a pull towards the left and realized my rear left tire was punctured. The only way this would have happened was during the fork flex all the body weight of the car would have shifted mostly to this tire and since it was tubeless it held on to the flex, if not it would have blasted off.

o 10 kms on, the air was depleting very fast, I had 30 kms to cover in 20 mins now, had to decide whether to stop and change the tires or push ahead.

o Somewhere I thought ll change the tires and stopped only to realize that
o I only had 4 rally tires and was driving all of them – profile 205/65/R15
o Next set of tires I had was AT and the profile was 215/65/R15
o If am supposed to change, I need to change both the rear tires
o And I DID NOT HAVE jack and wheel spanner in the car to do the same
o So there goes operation “tire change” for a toss and now am driving a car with rear puncture and overheating. Just some 30 mins back I was feeling good coz of a fellow competitors problems in his car and now am suffering like a crap

o 20 kms before service and 12 mins to go, rear punctured tire tears apart, shredded into bits. Now am driving 3 tires and 1 rim, no other option
.
o Reach the service park in WRC style with one rim and 3 tires and no rear bumper. The bewailed look of around 100 + rally drivers / navigators and people around was a icing on the cake.

o We enter the service park with 3 secs to spare on my time card. Right away head to the service bay.

o Tuner does his magic, fixes the overheating and I am roaming around for just one RALLY tire borrowing spree. No luck there.

o Finally we fix all the 4 with my AT (all terrain) tires and head for a well-deserved lunch.

o In our rally world, the gypsy aren’t taken into much consideration, we are our own gang of people, post my entry into the service park in the WRC style I could hear hush hush voices of people enquiring the gypsy timing and specifically my timings. Had a big grin on my face. AVIN NANJAPPA was being asked for.

o While at the Service Park, I get to know that Sanjay has a major problem with his rear differentials. Which seems to have completely busted. Massive respect to this veteran, he knows the gypsy like the back of his mind. In the middle of the scorching heat, he manages to remove the gypsy transfer case all alone and brings it to the service area.

o Post the lunch, we start the rally, to conquer stage 5 and 6 and we are done for the day.

o The timing post the re-group showed that Sanjay was comfortably 2 min and 30 secs ahead of me and I was nearly 10 mins ahead of the 3rd place guy.

The shredded tire and the rim. Drove 20 kms on the same


Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161217_171900-copy.jpg

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161217_171907-copy.jpg



Transport to chandapura stage - Again my navi gives two wrong calls on the transport stage and my presence of mind saved us there. By now I had realized my man was weak in transport stage, no qualms given, he was awesome on the stages and that’s what mattered. Sanjay takes the start besides me and jokes that I must horn well in advance for him to let me pass him. Do note; he is just driving on the gypsy front wheel, since the rear dif was knocked off, he had removed the propeller shaft.

Like any other human, I was full of glee, back of my mind I thought I will definitely catch him on the stage. Off he goes and I take the start only to realize in the first corner, the AT tires cannot replace a rally tire, the grips are totally different, rally tires holds on to the ground like an octopus, the AT hold on like a fish. I start sliding on the very first corner and have a few heart in mouth moments. Rethink and strategy now was to drive fast but quiet careful. Finish the stage with sanjay nowhere in sight, he was even faster with only two wheel drive too. That’s where the experience matters. In this speed he had plonked another 1.5 min on the lead. In total he was leading me by 4 mins

Stage 5 – Kumargode Reverse - This stage I was hell bent on catching sanjay, since was accustomed to the AT tires now, I was quicker in this stage and was able to bring down the lead back to 2 mins by the end of the day. In the middle of the stage since I was quicker I could catch most of the dust thrown by Sanjay and this coupled with fading daylight was another challenge. Ended the stage with all the head lights switched on. Rallying on night mode also ticked off the bucket list.

Transport stage – Kumargode – Service park – This was the only uneventful drive of the day, not to mention that we were hungry and tired, but was happy that the day ended well and survived thru the day. Reached the service park in time and head towards the service bay to see that another car is still on service and my service time starts the moment I enter the service bay. Some miscommunication resulted in us being stranded outside our tuners service bay. While the mechanics worked on the other car to finish it soon and take mine inside, I started my search for one tire borrow spree.
o Out of my 30 mins service time, my car gets into service post the 10 min mark, upon closer inspection tuner realizes that the tank has been punctured and needs to be replaced.

o He borrows a tank from a fellow tuner and changing a tank required permission and presence of FMSCI official, he gets all of the required stuff and starts the process.

o Only to realize that the borrowed tank is also punctured and the fuel leak is worse than mine

o The poor guy fixes the tank back again and seals the puncture with a Mseal

o All this and the gypsy serviced within a record of 20 mins with 5 guys working on it
All the while during the service scene, I saw sanjay and crack a few jokes, in-between the jokes, he asked me what my lead on him was? He was of the opinion that I was placed first, told him it was negative, that the he led the group by close to 2 min lead on me, the veteran never believed me and I got smart and cut a deal with him saying that if I proved to him that he led the pack would he spare (borrow) me a rally tire, what he told me next completely baffled me. “I would have given you the tire, no matter what.., all that was needed was for you to ask me in first place” he says these words, walks up to his service bay and hands me a brand new yokohama adv tires (cost 9k) which was mounted on an offset alloy wheels. Here I was looking at Sanjay as a competition and there he was looking at me as a compatriot. The only difference between us was that he proved to me that day motorsports needed more men like him.

Mind you, he was still running his gypsy without a back differential, he very well knew that I will catch him the next day with this tire advantage and he gave two cents about it. Hats off to you Sanjay Sir.

Finally with my tire dilemma fixed, I was still in shock with Sanjay’s response and wonder why didn’t I approach him earlier. The punctured tank was also fixed and gypsy parked in Parc Ferme. Head out to the hotel for a well-deserved rest.

Point to be noted was

• I was trailing Sanjay Agarwal by less than 2 mins and had advantage of fixed up car and rally tires
• In all this mele between me and sanjay, we were ahead of the pack by 30 mins.
• Sanjay had managed to procure a set of gypsy diff’s and team was fixing them up
• But all the rest three gypsy’s were fired up for last day of the event.
• I was hell bent on catching sanjay up, next day

The people who saw me drive and seeing the lead I had on the 3rd place guy started advising me on finishing the rally, rather than screw up my podium finish trying to catch the veteran. Mid-way thru these advices I realized that if he could beat me in two wheel drive (stage 5), he sure is not going to let me grab pole without a fight, especially with the new rear diff. I trained my mind to finish the rally and get the debut podium rather than be foolish and lose it all.

As I decided this, I failed to communicate the same to my navi, since he had gone away to meet fellow navigators and prepare the pace notes for the final day. By the time he came back to the room, I was half thru my sleep. My navi was of the opinion that I will push on the final day to get the first place, we close the day with this

Last edited by nanju : 30th April 2017 at 20:50.
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Old 29th April 2017, 15:58   #2
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Rally day five – Dec 5th 2016

This was the final day of the rally, of the 51 cars which started on dec 3rd, only 38 cars finished on dec 4th and rest either crashed of broke down. But most of them were serviced, fixed and ready to roll on the final day. This meant that there was a major shuffle in the start order, I was the 34th car to take the start and that’s a big jump from the previous day of 48th place. The point of concern here was that there was faster cars who were starting behind me and that made me a little nervous, few polos, cedias and esteem’s were behind my tail.

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Stage 5 - This was called Robusta stage – The day starts well, the fuel is not leaking and the rally tires are fixed on to the car in the service park. We head into the stage and take the start. Am happy with my performance on the stage and better than that am happy that the fasters cars haven’t caught me on the stage. The driving style remained the same, just that I was not pushing the car to its brink. We finish the stage and head to the last and most treacherous stage of the rally.

Stage 6 – Chandagiri – This was the longest stage of the rally, it was 21 kms long, with lots of stretches ending with 90^ turns. Fun to drive, oh yeah, but not with your rally suit and the heat inside the cabin. This stage demanded the most in terms of focus and dedication from both driver and navi. In back of my mind, I had divided the stage into 5 sections, tarmac>gravel>tarmac>gravel>broken tarmac finish. This was the only stage that had a good amount of tarmac thrown into the mixture. Given my earlier stint on the tarmac with rally tires, I wanted to be cautious on these tarmac stretches.

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-received_726969490812096.jpeg


Now a point to mention here was that, since I failed to communicate with my navi that I will focusing on finishing the rally, rather than pushing for the first place, within his mind it was the vice versa, he thought I will be pushing the car. On another note, my navi had participated in the Chikmangalur event in 2014 and 2015 but both the years, they failed to finish the rally, in 2015 they toppled in the last stage trying to push the car. This was running behind his mind that I might make a mistake and end up losing this comfortable podium finish too.


Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-fb_img_1482421990348.jpg


Took the start, completed the tarmac section, also completed the next gravel section and entered the 2nd tarmac, while on this stage I notice a difference on the calls of my navi, he was throwing “caution” calls for every small corners. Technically if a caution is throw, you’re literally dead slow or you expect tight corners etc. Poor guy just wanted me to finish the rally, but these too many unwanted cautions started getting on my nerves.

On the second tarmac, coupled with these nerve wracking caution calls, I lost the count of the sections and presumed that tarmac this is the last section of the rally post which is the finish. I started being a little faster on the corners. In one such hair pin corner, the entire road was filled with loose red gravel (due to vehicles cutting corners), I got a double caution call, slammed my brakes hard only to the horror of the gypsy spinning like a toy top. The gypsy does a complete 360 spin and comes to halt 90^ cross the road and engine stalled. Crank the car up and no response. Here I was, with a podium finish within my gasp, but it looked like its gone away now
• Stalled car in middle of hairpin corner with the gypsy blocking the path mid way
• I know there are two faster cars behind me, each car is left within an interval of 3 mins between the competitors.
• My gypsy is refusing to start nor crank
• Removed the belts, helmets and try to push the car to the side, the car doesn’t budge.. reason
• 4WD low is engaged and pushing a gypsy in 4WD is a nightmare.
• Quickly plonk it to 2WD and push, the car slides and on the slide crank it and it fires up again
• All this within the 120 seconds
Off we go now, thank god the polo behind us hasn’t caught us still, but both of us are driving without the seatbelts for a good 20 meters and its impossible to sit in a rally car without the seat belt on a rally stage. I park the car to the side and we fix the gear up and just the helmets, gave a damm about the intercoms and start moving again. In the next few meters the polo catches us up, I give him space to overtake and tail him off.


The entire episode lasted for a good 2-3 min’s and seemed like a nightmare. Had just given away a podium finish due to my ignorance. This episode rattled my navi even more, now his screams were getting louder and more scared, there was a prefix “sir” to all the calls now. Poor guy, I asked him to calm down, told him his loud calls are making me nervous also. The mistake has been done and rectified. Let us finish that rally calmly and I needed him to calm down soon. My man takes it positively and relaxes a bit. We finish the rally without much hungama and our hearts beating faster than ever.

Transport stage – Chandragiri to Service park – Well yeah, the rally stages have completed, the story isn’t done, nor the adventures too. We have 50 kms to cover in around 50 mins. The roads are confusing also, but we manage to be on the track, around 20 kms into the stage, the gypsy starts to pull towards left, Puncture AGAIN. Realize the rear left wheel is losing air pressure. It’s the rear left and I was using the borrowed tire along with the alloys. Stopped the car and decided to change both the rear tires since I couldn’t afford to shred this borrowed tire. Fresh from the previous day experience, the jack and wheel spanner was kept in the gypsy. But the lug nuts were so tight that we couldn’t even loosen one. I also was carrying the tubeless puncture repair kit, thought will fix the puncture and checked for the air leak only to realized the tire was perfect, the valve NECK was leaking air (don’t know how that happened). Decided to take the risk and drive again with this low pressure tire. The tire pressure held on with all goodness bestowed and we reach the service park well within time. Tires are changed back to AT once again and car is parked in Parc Ferme. For a well-deserved lunch and podium ceremony.

Thus my debut rally end with a podium with a lot of firsts in life. Navi is a happy man, recollects how he had to wait 3 years to get the chikmangalur podium finish.

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161205_164331-copy.jpg


Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161205_151932-copy.jpg


Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161205_202936.jpg 2016 –

Day 6 - Drive back to Bangalore– The next day the team leaves chikmangalur, I am dead from driving for past 5 days continuously and the tuner willingly take the wheel of my gypsy, as I hop on to verna from one of the team members. Around 60 kms from Bangalore, we get a call from the tuner. The Gypsy breaks down, engine blown. We hire a tow truck and get the podium finished baby back to Garage in bangalore.


Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-20161206_161104.jpg


About the Coffee day India Rally 2016

For me as an individual, Coffee day India rally Chikmangalur was an AWESOME experience for the below stats

• The event was a class apart, with APRC cars and APRC standards this was one event I will continue to attend for years to come. Very well organized
• Gaurav Gill in one of the interviews said this was the rally od 1000 corners, where else can you get to learn and tune your driving skills beyond this
• The organizing committee had done an exceptional job in handling this event, there wasn’t any loose end at all. The stages were fast, recovery of broken down vehicles was even faster, regulations and rules were perfectly adhered too, no last minute surprises.
• Each marshal was super dedicated to their job. They exactly knew their roles and was always ready to help competitors. No one has airs around them, including the president and seniors.
• The stages were near to perfect, with me running 48th on day one, never at once I felt the track damaged due to the previous cars. The track surface was 80% match of what was felt during the recce.
• For the money I spent in the entire rally, the experience and knowledge gained was immense, I drove out of the rally a better driver than I earlier was.
• 6 days of pure adrenaline rush and rallying element to its all glory
• Asia’s best and India best rally drivers and navigators were all mingling under one roof which was way beyond any rally fan’s dream
• Made a good bunch of rally friends and navigators. I knew where to fine tune what of my driving skills and knew how better to handle my gypsy.

Thus ladies and gentleman, ends my story on the most awaited rally of the INRC calendar.

Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!-fb_img_1481390905572.jpg

Last edited by nanju : 1st May 2017 at 10:51.
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Old 2nd May 2017, 06:58   #3
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Default re: Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Indian Motorsport Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 2nd May 2017, 07:27   #4
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Default re: Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!

Thanks for sharing your first rally experience.
I recall my first event experience a decade ago in Bangalore event.
But the coffee day rally holds a special place as it is the first event where I finally completed an event after 5 DNFs. This came in with a podium finish followed by a first place in 2011 event.
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Old 2nd May 2017, 11:38   #5
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Default Re: Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!

Congratulations on the podium, and thanks for narrating the whole experience.

Did you take part in any of the other rallies after this? Looking forward to more threads like this.
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Old 2nd May 2017, 11:50   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedmiester View Post
Thanks for sharing your first rally experience.
I recall my first event experience a decade ago in Bangalore event.
But the coffee day rally holds a special place as it is the first event where I finally completed an event after 5 DNFs. This came in with a podium finish followed by a first place in 2011 event.
Thanks Mate. As always the first rally is a memorable experience altogether

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Originally Posted by slicvic View Post
Congratulations on the podium, and thanks for narrating the whole experience.

Did you take part in any of the other rallies after this? Looking forward to more threads like this.
Thanks boss, well post the Coffee day podium, I had an option to participate in the K-1000 and Desert Storm. Lack of funds kept me on my toes.

Planning for the Chikmangalur event again this year. Have been approaching some sponsors and that should be the deciding factor for the participation.

Last edited by Rehaan : 2nd May 2017 at 17:08. Reason: Merging consecutive posts. Please use the MULTI-QUOTE feature (See FAQs). Thanks & congrats :)
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Old 2nd May 2017, 16:04   #7
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Default Re: Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!

Congratulations to a much deserved win, great write up too, felt like i was right with you.

Props to Sanjay for lending the spare wheel, majority won't, you need more people like these.

PS: Is that the garage near Agara lake, where all of the work was done on Gypsy?

Last edited by AtheK : 2nd May 2017 at 16:12.
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Old 2nd May 2017, 16:19   #8
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Default Re: Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!

Many congratulations Avin Nanjappa. I am sure that the memories of the first rally would never fade away. Lessons that one learns from such experiences would help to ensure that there are no hiccups in future events. One would consider the worst case scenarios or even the ones with very low probability to occur!

Frankly, my 2p; A hatch or a small sedan is better suited for rallies these days rather than a Gypsy : )

Best wishes for your continued rallying.
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Old 2nd May 2017, 16:26   #9
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Default Re: Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!

Congratulations & wishing you further victories!

For some one like me, who is not involved in racing, gave a good insight of the pain and effort that is put in. Thank you for sharing.
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Old 2nd May 2017, 16:37   #10
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Default Re: Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!

Good writeup buddy. Knowing you and seeing you on the track, I am sure this is the first write up of many more podium finish write ups to come. Maybe you could wrangle the wrangler from Amrth for the next one :P
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Old 2nd May 2017, 16:50   #11
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Awesome! It was so much fun to read the story about your first rally experience. The way you described the rally, felt as if i was watching it live! Congratulations on your win in your first rally itself. Everything was going against you, the tire, the tank, the suit etc., but you made it to the podium.Super! Your Navi & Tuner have supported you superbly. And hats off to Sanjay Sir for his spirit. Hope you get to participate in the event this year too. Good Luck. Keep Rallying.
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Old 2nd May 2017, 17:05   #12
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Default Re: Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!

Congratulations!

I really enjoyed the way you recollected the events. Felt like reading a script for a race-movie or documentary
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Old 2nd May 2017, 17:37   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtheK View Post
Congratulations to a much deserved win, great write up too, felt like i was right with you.

Props to Sanjay for lending the spare wheel, majority won't, you need more people like these.

PS: Is that the garage near Agara lake, where all of the work was done on Gypsy?
Thank you Athek - Yeah, Sanjay was a true gentleman and proved beyond words why he was a Gypsy legend. The garage is situated near the HSR Police station, few meters post the Agara lake.

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Originally Posted by swissknife View Post
Many congratulations Avin Nanjappa. I am sure that the memories of the first rally would never fade away. Lessons that one learns from such experiences would help to ensure that there are no hiccups in future events. One would consider the worst case scenarios or even the ones with very low probability to occur!

Frankly, my 2p; A hatch or a small sedan is better suited for rallies these days rather than a Gypsy : )

Best wishes for your continued rallying.
@swissknife - Thanks mate, the experience do taught me a hell load, have been implementing them in my endeavors for now.

Regarding the sedan or hatch for the rallies, Firstly you need an homolated car, the ones ruling the roost today are honda city Vtech and Polo. I cannot match the cost of these cars. Each with a proper rally set up is gonna cost around 6+ for a city and around 9+ for a polo - The used ones that too.

Maintaining them post each event is also a big bummer. 2015 FMSCI champion Druva Chandrashekar is my team mate, he has both a vtech and a polo and his bills will give any "professional working class and want to race servant" a big heart attack. In that way, Gypsy is min maintenance at maximum usage graph.


Quote:
Originally Posted by whitewing View Post
Congratulations & wishing you further victories!

For some one like me, who is not involved in racing, gave a good insight of the pain and effort that is put in. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you, the insight for the article was to make sure a layman knows the nitty-gritty's of the sport. Appreciate the response

Quote:
Originally Posted by BopsKA12 View Post
Good writeup buddy. Knowing you and seeing you on the track, I am sure this is the first write up of many more podium finish write ups to come. Maybe you could wrangle the wrangler from Amrth for the next one :P
Thank you bops, will use your recommendations to wrangle the wrangler outta Amrth

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeat100k View Post
Awesome! It was so much fun to read the story about your first rally experience. The way you described the rally, felt as if i was watching it live! Congratulations on your win in your first rally itself. Everything was going against you, the tire, the tank, the suit etc., but you made it to the podium.Super! Your Navi & Tuner have supported you superbly. And hats off to Sanjay Sir for his spirit. Hope you get to participate in the event this year too. Good Luck. Keep Rallying.
@lifeat100k - Your response made my day mate, truly captured the essence of things going wrong at every turn. Wish your HOPE comes true. Thank you.

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Originally Posted by ajman28 View Post
Congratulations!

I really enjoyed the way you recollected the events. Felt like reading a script for a race-movie or documentary
@ajman28 - Thank you. Glad that your spent time reading the entire article.
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Old 2nd May 2017, 23:28   #14
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Default Re: Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!

Congrats bro and as a fellow boy from Goni its a proud feeling. Good luck on your future races and i think we have some common friends in CK.

That was a brilliant writeup and says a lot on your passion for the sport.

Do share some videos of the event if you do have.

Maddy
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Old 3rd May 2017, 04:15   #15
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Default Re: Coffee Day India @ Chikmagalur : Got a podium in my debut rally!

Congratulations on the podium finish. All the efforts sure did pay off. Now that you do have a solid credibility, I would recommend exploring the option of using TeamBHP as a potential platform to raise sponsorship funds for future events. I'm sure there are many petrol heads out here who might contribute towards the growth of your talent and passion. Cheers.
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