| Action during the Howrah leg of the rally and (right) actor Ferdous wishes a participant the best. (Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya)
Veterans and rookies on wheels scorched blacktop and dirt track in quest of glory at the Monsoon Drive organised by Just Sportz in association with The Telegraph on Saturday.
Thirty-three cars and 13 motorcycles took part in the rally, whose course winded across the city before going deep into Howrah across the river.
The sun shone bright belying the monsoon tag of the rally as the Honda Unicorns, Pulsars, Esteems and Gypsies lined up outside South City Mall for the flag-off. So harsh was the sunshine that many of the riders were complaining of headache after crossing the finishing line.
The vehicles covered 135km, touching Southern Avenue, Rashbehari Avenue, the Hazra crossing, Ashutosh Mukherjee Road, Harish Mukherjee Road, Rabindra Sadan, Park Street, Chittaranjan Avenue, Girish Park, Bagbazar, BT Road and Dunlop on the way to Nivedita Setu. In Howrah, the rallyists went through Bargachhia, National Highway 6, Chamrail, Domjur, Amta, Bagnan and Deulti before reaching Country Roads in Panchla.
The last leg comprised a 5km dirt track along the Damodar river.
This is the third event we have organised and we plan to hold more such rallies, said Suchandan Das, the clerk-of-course (C-o-C). As more and more dirt tracks are being converted into metalled roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, rallies are becoming difficult to organise, he added.
The dirt track, a moram road, along the river was hardly more than 1.5m wide. Negotiating the narrow dirt track was quite challenging, said Dipali Poddar of the only all-womans team in the drive.
For veterans like Vishal Das and Mohammed Irfan Bhati, the Monsoon Drive was excellent practice for the challenges ahead. It was a good drive, organised well, said Dibyojoti Ghosh, who rode a Honda Unicorn with Mukesh Thakkar as his navigator.
It was a good learning experience for beginners, said Ghosh, who has participated in the Karnataka 1000. For Poddar, the event served as a warm-up rally before the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) TSD rally, due next in Ranchi.
Barring three, all the participants finished the rally. Bike No. 11 was a non-starter. The rider and his navigator did not turn up. And two four-wheelers pulled out because of technical reasons, said the clerk-of-course.
The first prize in the four-wheeler category went to Saurav Chatterjee and Moulinath Ghosh. Sekhar Choudhury and Suvrajit Dutta finished second and Debarati Chanda and Nirav Mehta third. Among two-wheelers, Rajdip and Sumana Fadikar secured the first prize, Uday Ganguly and Raj Kumar Mundra the second and Vishal Das and Mohammed Irfan Bhati third.