Jodhpur: The third round of the FMSCI Indian National Rally Championship had to be called off after tragedy struck on the opening day of the event, resulting in the deaths of three locals.
The incident took place on the opening day of the Maxperience Rally, taking place at Dhawa on the outskirts of Jodhpur.
Ace rally driver Gaurav Gill and co-driver Musa Sharif were the first participants in the first stage of the event, and were close to the finish line when they collided with a motorcyle carrying three locals — including a minor.
According to the rally organisers, there wasn't much Gill and his co-driver could have done to avoid the collision since it took place at a blindspot just when their vehicle was turning left.
According to the organisers, the motorcyle was being driven by a man who was accompanied by a woman and a minor boy — presumed to be his wife and son.
The organisers claimed the trio illegally entered the race track despite warnings from the rally marshals and other locals, and were trying to get to the other side of the track when they collided with Gill's car.
"The motorcycle had forcibly entered into the barricaded area, breaking past the security barrier while the stage was still green. The driver was moving at high speed and could not even see the motorbike as it emerged at a sharp turn. By the time we could react or even stop the stage, everything happened in less than a minute," said Arvind Balan, organiser of the rally.
Vamsi Merla, director of Champions Yacht Club — who are the promoters of the championship — came to the defence of the organiser, saying that all the necessary precautions had been taken and the locals had been warned against trespassing onto the racing area.
"It was an unavoidable accident. A complete blindspot. The organiser has done his level best to ensure safety measures everywhere. He (Balan) went to the villages and did announcements for the people, took all the permissions regarding the rally, and the villagers were advised not to be on the track..."
"As a promoter, I really don’t feel this is the negligence of the organiser," said Merla, who additionally described the incident as a "black day for Indian motorsport."
Gill had reportedly been shifted to a city hospital after the incident due to the collision, complaining of respiratory problems. His co-driver Sharif suffered minor injuries in the accident.
Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) president J Prithviraj, who was also acting as the Clerk of the Course (COC), offered his condolences to the family of the deceased.
"We extend our deepest condolences to the bereaved family. The entire motorsports fraternity stands with them in their grief," said Prithviraj.
The police were unavailable for comment after the incident.
Three-time Asia Pacific champion Gill had recently been nominated for the Arjuna Award. The Delhi-based racer stated that his nomination, making him a "government-certified athlete", would come as a massive boost for the sport in the country in terms of getting recognition.
Updated Date: Sep 21, 2019 20:44:34 IST