Guwahati, Jan. 28: The land of the rising sun, Arunachal Pradesh, is all set to become a venue for motor sports when the Dirang Valley in West Kameng district hosts the JK Tyre Arunachal Festival of Speed — a cluster of motor sports — on February 1 and 2.
“It will be a festival of a different kind in the Northeast, known for its singing and dancing to mark every festival, where the mean machine and the wheels will dance to the tunes and beats of the terrain of the Dirang Valley,” said host Motorsports Club of Arunachal president Lhakpa Tsering.
Over 20 professional Indian drivers and 35 more from the Northeast will be at the wheels.
“Already 50 drivers from across the nation have confirmed their participation and we are expecting at least 10 more to confirm in the next three days. There will be Rs 7 lakh in cash up for grabs in the form of 41 event prizes,” Tsering added.
Asia Pacific rally champion and the best driver of the country, Gaurav Gill, nine-time Raid-de-Himalaya champion Suresh Rana, Volkswagon Rally Team and dominating Autocross driver in India, Philipose Mathai will also participate in the rally.
Locals Jitu Kalita and fastest Gypsy driver from Nagaland, Anguzo Sekheso, are some of the names to lead the challenge from the home side.
The festival, to be held at a temperatures ranging from sub-zero to 16 degrees Celsius, will involve all the three formats of motor sports in India — Autocross, rally sprint and rally hill climb.
“The Autocross will be held under floodlights at the stadium in Dirang where drivers will have to negotiate the twisted lanes at high speed and the rally sprint, a high-speed dirt track event, will be held at the Sangti Valley at an altitude of nearly 4,800 feet.
“The rally hill climb will be the most dangerous form of driving and held at Runja village in the Sangti valley at an altitude of 4,800 feet to 9,000 feet,” the chief of the organising body, said.
The festival is being organised with the support of the Nagaland Motorsports Association, Extreme Games Association of Assam and Federation of Motor Sports Club of India, among others.
The event owes its roots to the motor rallies organised by the MCA since 2000.
“It is exciting to see the sport go from an amateur one when I was a rally driver in the late 1980s to this level today. There was a time when we northeasterners were asked if we have ever seen a mountain rally when we used to compete in the Himalayan rally and now this region itself is hosting an event,” said pioneer rallyist from Assam, Atiqur Rahman.