The third round of the 2019 Indian National Rally Championship has been cancelled following an unfortunate crash during the very first stage of the rally which has left a family of three dead. During the first Special Stage of the rally, Gaurav Gill was the first car out, however, Gill was unable to finish even the first stage of the rally after his car hit a motorcycle that was being driven by a local, carrying his family, had reportedly forced himself on to the live rally stage. The car involved was being driven by Gaurav Gill himself, with co-pilot Musa Sherif.
On Saturday morning, the first day of the Rally of Jodhpur began with Gill/Sherif being the first car out. However, just 150m before the finish of the gravel and dust surface of SS1, reports suggest that Gill was manoeuvring his Mahindra Super XUV300 rally car through a blind curve at high speed, reportedly over 150kmph. Gill was surprised to see a motorcyclist with his family crossing across the live stage, and despite his best efforts was unable to recover from the unavoidable racing incident as the driver was left with no reaction time. Gill’s car hit the motorcycle at a few hundred metres before the end of the first stage.
The local was reportedly travelling with who are said to be his wife and child, none of whom were wearing helmets. The incident has left all three riders to succumb to their injuries, while Gill was taken to hospital after suffering major injuries and respiratory problems. Gill is currently going through treatment at a local hospital in Jodhpur and is yet to be discharged. Gill’s co-driver Musa Sherif only suffered minor injuries from the incident.
Following the incident, the rally was called off by the organisers. Arvind Balan, the local organiser of the event said that the motorcycle had forcibly entered into the barricaded area, breaking past the security barrier while the stage was still green. he said that "The driver was moving at high speed and could not even see the motorbike as it emerged at a sharp turn."
President of the FMSCI, J Prithiviraj who is also the COC of the event extended deepest condolences to the family of the deceased and stated that the organising team is currently working with the authorities and the locals to provide the necessary support.
The organisers confirmed that prior to the incident taking place, the biker and his family were waiting on the side of the track. However, despite being discouraged by the marshals, crowd control team and the locals, the biker crossed over the live stage just as when Gill’s car appeared from the blind curve.
“We had been giving warnings about the road closure to the villagers for the past 15 days. There were field marshals but one of the deceased (Narendra) argued with them and when the marshals were looking away, the man broke the barricade and entered the track,” he said.
J Prithiviraj also said that all the necessary permissions were given to the event organisers. Additionally, the police force was also notified to provide the requires support for the event. The locals were also informed and consent from the locals was also provided to the organisers to hold the event.
Gaurav Gill is one of the best rally drivers from India and has recently been awarded the Arjuna national award for outstanding achievement in sports. Gill is a multiple national champion and a multiple APRC champion as well. In addition to competing for the in National championship, the Indian driver is also competing in the 2019 season of the World Rally Championship in the WRC-2 category for M-Sport. Gill showed great promise during his first round for the season at the Rally of Turkey but was unfortunately forced to retire after mechanical issues. Following his appearance at the national event in Jodhpur, Gill is confirmed to appear at the WRC round in Wales for the Rally of Great Britain from October 3-6. However, following his incident on home soil, it seems unlikely that Gill would race for the Welsh Rally, however, we currently await a confirmation from the side of the driver.
UPDATE: Reports claim that a case has been registered for culpable homicide under Section 304 against Gaurav Gill and his co-driver Musa Sheriff in addition to Mahindra, MRF tyres, JK tyres and Federation of Motor Sports Club of India. Reports state that the bodies of the victims were still left untouched even after 24 hours past the incident as the family refused to collect the bodies. The local villagers staged a protest in the region demanding monetary compensation and a government job for the next of kin in addition to the arrest of Gill. ANI reports that the Divisional Commissioner has been asked to submit a report within seven days to the state home ministry on the incident.