Participants at The Telegraph Kaviguru Rally 2013. Pictures by Sayantan Ghosh
Dipping causeways, camel-hump bumps, broken culverts, multiple ditches.... All these and more were negotiated by 27 four-wheelers and 15 two-wheelers in The Telegraph Kaviguru Rally 2013, presented by Servo in association with Peerless.
Apart from a few broken headlights, grazed fenders, bent tail pipes and dented bumpers, professionals and amateurs alike wheeled their way through a maze of dirt tracks and teeming village roads through Bankura and Birbhum to reach the finish line at Santiniketan on Saturday.
The rally was flagged off at Netaji Indoor Stadium around 8pm, after which the cars and the bikes proceeded towards NH2 through Vidyasagar Setu.
This being a Time Speed Distance rally, sticking to the speed limit is a prerequisite for winning points. The speed limit on highways, for instance, was 65kmph.
At the first passage control (a stop for refuelling and machine checks), 112.60km from start, rallyists took a breather preparing themselves for the challenge ahead.
At 112.70km from start, the vehicles were to take a right turn from the highway to Bankura Road, bidding adieu to smooth tarmac and bracing for broken thoroughfares and dirt tracks ahead.
While the organisers groaned at the loss of rallying tracks, read unmetalled country roads, to the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, one can safely bet that Bengal will continue to have such tracks as long as there are broken metalled roads.
Racing down Bankura Road — broken in parts, congested in others — the competitors had to keep an eye out for scampering hens, frisky goats and lazy cows. “If you hit any of them, you will have to pay for not just the one you hit, but also the future chicks and goats it might have produced,” warned Subhas Nagchoudhury, who was navigating the car ferrying the Metro team covering the rally.
Soon after passing Kejurihati Bajar, keeping Khandaghosh police station on the left, we reached an undeclared Time Control (TC) zone keeping track of the competitors’ progress. Points were deducted if a rallyist hits a TC zone before or after the designated time. A number of bikes were seen crawling their way to the zone to avoid penalties for arriving early.
At 156.60km from the starting point, non-metalled road started. A narrow red track running amidst a boulevard of eucalyptus trees meandered through the Birbhum forest. As congestion thinned out with miles stretching without any sign of humanity, the fun began. It was the navigator’s rally from here on.
We parked our car beside the rally route in the middle of a mahua forest and positioned ourselves just after a precariously dipping causeway to see how the rallyists negotiated it. The roar of a Gypsy engine was heard minutes before it appeared. Subir Roy and Nirav Mehta slowed down and dipped into the causeway before pressing gas to ascend onto the road again. It wasn’t long before Somdeb Chanda and Amit Saha did the same with their Gypsy, too. Prashanta Paul and Prasenjit Roy, too, negotiated the triple-caution stretch successfully in their fortified Mitsubishi Cedia.
But soon after a Swift hurled into the causeway straight at 40kmph. It’s oil guard grazed the ground and the front bumper was left behind. Soon after a Santro made a similar dive followed by an Esteem. However, all the cars sped past.
Somdeb Chanda and Amit Saha were the winners in the four-wheeler category. Sheikh Asgar Ali and Mohd M.K. Mustafa won the second position, and Patrick Sirkar and Debasish Ghosh the third slot.
In the two-wheeler category, the winner’s crown went to Mukesh Thakkar and Sibhrangshu Hazra. Sabatullah Khan and Hyatullah Khan came second, while Diptojyoti Ghosh and Saptarshi Basu came third.