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National rally leg-up for Bengal motorsport fans

The eastern leg of the Indian National Rally will be held between October 31 and November 2 on a gravel track, probably in Durgapur, and the super stage in Calcutta.

The rally was earlier known as the Indian National Rally Championship. According to the Federation of Motors Sports Club of India’s (FMSCI) 2014 calendar, the Calcutta fixture will be the fourth round of the championship.

The speed event, organised by Ramkrishna Racing Performance Management (RRPM) Ltd, will be followed by the TSD (time speed distance) competition on November 15 and 16. Just Sportz Management Pvt Ltd will manage the TSD event.

“The rally is now open to foreign drivers and foreign cars,” said RRPM director Arindam Ghosh, whose son Amittrajit is the reigning national champion.

Ghosh, a veteran rallyist, was instrumental in bringing the national speed rally championship to the east in 2009 after a gap of nine years. But he lost the bid next year. “The 2009 rally was a disaster because we were still learning the ropes of organising a speed rally,” he said.

When it seemed motorsports in Calcutta had reached a dead end, Ghosh brought back the rally in 2011. “That was a grand success,” he said.

The city missed out again last year “because of the panchayat polls”.

The organisers promised that 2014 would be different as rally enthusiasts will get to see Malaysian racer Karamjit Singh, known in the circuit as the Flying Sikh, Delhi-based Gaurav Gill and home hero Amittrajit Ghosh pushing their engines and raising the dust on a gravel track as against tarmac.

“We are yet to decide the route. We will start chalking out things once the election process is over. There are a lot of good gravel roads in Jharkhand and Durgapur,” Ghosh said.

He is not too keen on Jharkhand because of logistics. “Probably, it’s going to be Durgapur where you have access to a modern town plus good dirt tracks. Everything, including good hospitals, is within 30km.”

Ghosh wants to hold the super special stage in the city with all its thrills and spills — water tables, dips, tight corners, fast corners and, of course, the champagne shower.

“We want the spectators in Calcutta to experience the thrill. There are enough stadiums here where we can hold the special stage,” he said.

Ghosh said poor logistics and inadequate safety set-ups make speed rallies a high-risk affair in the city. “Cars will be doing 150 to 190kmph. During an emergency, it will be an uphill task to get trauma ambulances onto the tracks for reaching the injured on time.”

He needs at least a 1km circuit for the special stage event.

The TSD rally will run its eighth leg in Calcutta. Just Sportz’s Suchandan Das said: “It will start in the middle of the city and move to tracks in Midnapore before finishing at Mandarmani or Digha. It will cover 200 to 250km.”