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Top drive

Team Pro-Rally prepares to blaze a trail on the racing track

Photo: K. Ananthan

A NEW BEGINNING V. R. Naren Kumar

After toiling for years with Team MRF, former national rally driver N. Leelakrishnan along with current rally stars V.R. Naren Kumar and Vikram Mathias bid goodbye to form a new team earlier this year. The team was christened `Team Pro-Rally' only last month.

"Be it driving or preparing cars, we want to be professional in our approach. So we thought the name was well suited," says seven-time champion Leelakrishnan, who hails from Coimbatore.

Moving on

The 41-year-old, who started his career as a privateer before moving to Team MRF, points out that they faced no real competition driving for Team MRF. "Though we did well we could not really surge forward after a certain period of time. We decided to move out so that the others might get a chance to perform."

"Also, we had dreams of rallying abroad, but it never came our way. I am sure we have taken the right decision. Now that we have formed a new team we have our own separate identity as well," he adds.

Proving a point

Team Pro-Rally ran a two-car team under the JK banner for the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) this season and finished for the overall title. "We ran on a small budget this year. Despite that, we managed to prove a point to the others. The credit should go to Naren for his wonderful show. He did it all by himself and with ease," says Leelakrishnan.

He says the team played it very safe. "We drove very conservatively. Our preparation level also was not up to our expectations because of budget constraints. However, it will be a different situation for us next year. JK Industries has come forward to support us."

Race plans

The team plans to run three cars in the new season with Naren, Vikram and Gaurav Gill at the wheel. The team will go by the name of Team JK Tyre for the team championship.



N. Leelakrishnan

"We are buying an engine dyno, suspension damper dyno and a few other equipment as well. The suspension dyno is to make sure the dampers are working well," says Leelakrishnan, who is considered one the finest tuners in the country.

He says the team may probably drive the Baleno.

"We want to have at least six cars - three for rallying, two for spare and one for testing. We also don't want to use the rally car for testing. We are starting to work with JK for tyre testing. And, we will be better prepared next year."

Leelakrishnan, who quit as a driver a couple of years ago, wants to put his technical expertise to the best possible use. "Being a driver myself, I know what exactly is required for a competition. In fact, it makes my work all the more easy."

He says the team's primary aim was to beat Team MRF.

"We beat them comfortably this year. We won the Chandigarh, Bangalore and Hyderabad legs with ease. You will see more such victories from us in the years to come."

RAYAN ROZARIO

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