Madikeri, Nov 30: The weekend turned out to be an exciting and rewarding one for JK Tyre Motorsport driver Suhem Kabeer from Coorg, Karnataka supported by Vamcy Merla Sports Foundation, who was participating at the final round of Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) 2023 in Indonesia. He managed to keep the Indian flag flying high with his determined and focused drive at the Danau Toba Rally with multiple podium finishes.
The APRC was running concurrently with the Danau Toba Rally of the Indonesia National Rally Championship (INRC). The JK Tyre Motorsport team of drivers were vying for top spot in the overall APRC in the NVA (National Vehicles Approval) class and in the M2 class of the INRC.
Driving a 4-wheel drive car in the rally for the first time with a limited testing time of 6 kms, three Indian drivers finished the APRC finale held in Indonesia within top 8, the rally was held along with the Indonesian Rally Championship.
A total of 12 stages amounted to about 150kms of special stage from a total of 433kms. The Danau Toba Rally was spread across 12 all-gravel roads from conditions varying from wide open plantation sections to twisty winding mountainous sections.
The stages were challenging, technical and fast, while due to rain the surface was repeatedly changing the coarse, thus forcing all the participants to drive cautiously. Thus, a huge amount of dropouts of about 28 were on second day. Indian drivers showed much maturity to adapt to the surface condition and reach to the finish.
In the NVA category, Suhem Kabeer (driver) along with PVS Murthy (co-driver) was the winner followed by Lokesh Gowda and Ashwin Naik in second position while the pair of Jahaan Singh Gill and Suraj Keshav Prasad finished in the third position.
In M2 class which was part of the Indonesia Rally Championship, Suhem and Murthy finished second as Lokesh and Ashwin were in third. The celebration just did not end with the drivers ruling the podium as team JK Tyre Motorsport was awarded the best team performance award.
Among all the India participants, Suhem Kabeer along with PVS Murthy finished fourth, Lokesh Gowda along with Ashwin Naik finished in fifth position. Sanjay Takale and Musa Sherif finished sixth, Jahaan Singh Gill and Suraj Prasad finished in eighth position in APRC overall.
Suhem Kabeer along with PVS Murthy on day one was 17th fastest in SSS. They began their day two very cautiously since the track was bit slippery. In the second stage of the day, they spun once and lost some time and managed to reach the remote service with no reverse gear. But fixing this issue in remote service was impossible as it was meant only for tyre change and refuelling. Thus with no option left for further two stages, they had to manage. But it became much worse before the last stage before service they had to take on the stage with only 3rd gear working, which was later fixed in service. They began the final day with about 8 min difference with the leader and hence catching them up was out of question and they also had good lead on their follower in third position and hence decided to just nurse back the car to the finish in fourth position.
“It was one of the most difficult rallies that I have been part of. It was an uncharted territory for us with little knowledge of the terrain. The slush made the stages very slippery and I had to dig deep into my reservoir to finish the event unscathed,” Suhem said.