The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rally flag-off on Friday

Calcutta: The Monsoon Rally is back on the eastern circuit. Too much of a tradition — a quarter century of milestones — to be dumped, the Bengal Motor Sports Club is keeping it alive and kicking, with another edition, 692km of it, from Calcutta to Jamshedpur and back on Friday and Saturday.

Tata Bearings are title sponsors this year, with promise of more the year after.

It was announced at a press conference this afternoon that the rally, the premier motoring event of eastern India, has already attracted 25 four-wheelers and 23 two-wheelers, including such names as have been around for all the excitement over the years and several ex-champions.

Sanjay Arya, who also clinched the Eastern India Rally title last year, is the defending champion.

The rally will be flagged off from the Netaji Indoor Stadium on Friday morning on an approximately eight and-a-half hour journey at a maximum of 55kmph, on road that, apart from the transport sector, will also have around 18 per cent of dirt track in the 362km first leg.

The view will be usual, in routes through forest tracks (roughs and dips and dirt) in Midnapore, Kharagpur (where the passage control will be set up at the Nimpura Tata Bearings factory), but the tulip chart will surely be different for this TSD rally.

The usual second leg has been abandoned. What used to be a Ranchi-touching, Chotanagpur skimming superb emotional affair has been replaced by a return from Jamshedpur as a rally route.

If the fun of this is lost in the fatigue of an ageing band of rallyists (with fresh young faces possibly more interested in sedate stuff), it could just be a lost cause. For the cause of motorsport in this part of the country, a Jharkhand intrusion was necessary, one feels.

The return 330km will have 14 per cent of dirt. The rest will be the repeat drudgery that used to be the way with this rally before ideas grew wings.

Standard ambulance presence will be around, but Dr Somnath Chakraborty, the Clerk of the Course and a senior medical practitioner himself, believes the cars will not be required to adhere to any special safety statute because “it is a slow rally”.

One interesting aspect of this rally will be the use of, for the first time, Tag Heuer timers. The clocks are being synchronised and are sturdy enough to avoid such temperature tantrums as what happened last year.

Sanjoy Chaudhry, head, corporate communications of Tata Steel, said he feels there will be soon a presence of Tata Motors in the circuit. That will be a fresh face among jaded pretenders with either of two tyre-maker logos.

The Maruti team has yet to officially land hereabouts, and with the addition of the Indicas and Indigos, the scenario could get tougher for the Esteems.

Total prize money is Rs 1,83,000.

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