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Snapshots from the JK Tyre Himalayan Drive 8

It was also the finals of the Indian National Regularity Run Championship and was held in scenic north Bengal. The Telegraph was there

Abhijit Mitra | Published 31.05.22, 12:12 AM

The eighth edition of the JK Tyre Himalayan Drive, a signature event in the motorsports calendar of Eastern India, a time, speed and distance (TSD) rally, was held over four days in North Bengal. This year’s Himalayan Drive was also the finals of the Indian National Regularity Run Championship. It started from Siliguri and ended in Darjeeling after three days.

t2 went trackside, well, routeside, to get a first-hand experience of the competition. Day One was the most gruelling, comprising a day section as well as a night section, both of which were trying for man and machine. Day Two was comparatively shorter, but not much easier in terms of competition. Day Three was more tarmac compared with the previous days but also had more hilly sections.

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While the speed limit for a TSD rally is set at 45kmph, considering the kind of car-breaking and back-breaking route that one needs to maintain that speed over it probably seems more like 145kmph! Also, being an ‘open’ TSD rally, there were vehicles of all shapes and sizes, from near stock hatchbacks to substantially more capable and powerful SUVs and rally-prepped cars.

Nonetheless, it was still sort of an even playing field because of the human factor of the navigator, whose skill was supremely important for keeping the car on the track and getting to time controls when required, neither sooner nor later, to collect the fewest penalty points.

All is well that ends well, and so did this in Darjeeling and the prizes were given out and, now, everyone is waiting for Himalayan Drive 9, we think.

The winners

Category: INRRC + Pro

1. Sk Ajgar Ali and Mk Mohammad Musthafa

2. Sk Aniruddha and Raj Kumar Mundra

3. Subir Roy and Nirav Mehta

Category: INRRC Ladies + Pro

1. Sheena Sabharwal and Trupti Gupta

2. Jasmeet Kaur and Jyothi Iyengar

3. Nilasha Das and Ipsita Das

Category: Adventure

1. Jit Mitra and K. Dinky Varghese

2. Abhijit Singh and Ibrahim Ali Shaikh

3. Nisan Choudhury and Chandrasish Roy

Category: Local-Adventure

Vikash Toshniwal and Sumit Mukherjee

Category: Local

Pranjal More and Milindo Paul

DAY 1

The JK Tyre Himalayan Drive 8 started off from Siliguri and just about an hour away the participants got a taste of what was to come when the tulip map took them into a stony riverbed that was a the first of the many tests to come over the next couple of days. This is probably the toughest day of the rally with this first daytime stage to be followed by a night stage that ended in Murti. Unfortunately, because of pitch darkness it was not possible to capture the cars on this stretch but just watching the tail lights doing the jig as the cars raced into the night with their brights turning night into day one could get an idea how tough the course was.

DAY 2

The second day of the rally was comparatively shorter than the first with drivers starting out from Murti and then returning to the same place after completing Stage 3 of the rally. But it was not an easy day in the true sense. The route went into the bed of the Jaldhaka river and water crossing had to be done twice to come to the time control. Plus, there were a few challenges thrown into the mix for the navigators with the route looping back and forth very closely and it was very easy to miss the markers and miss a turn or take one that was not to be taken. Besides one had to get into time control the right way round and not doing so cost penalty points as some participants found out to their cost. The water crossing also provided some spectacular visuals with some of the cars nearly getting covered in the spray that they were throwing up in quite dramatic fashion. The grazing cattle on the riverbed, however, seemed oblivious to this extreme air of competitiveness as the cars zipped around them.

DAY 3

The route of of the final day and Stage 4 of the rally went through possibly the most picturesque places of the entire region. A large part of it was through the Dooars on the way from Murti to Darjeeling via Mongpu. It was very beautiful indeed. We wished we could have watched the cars some more but much of the route went though fairly narrow public roads and villages and there were only very specific places where there was enough space where one could actually stand and watch from the the routeside. Nonetheless, it was a glorious day and the cars raced down the blacktop between the trimmed tea bushes and through some forest routes in the higher reaches. It was all quite spectacular and a fitting finish to three days of competition among comrades who would fight each other tooth and nail to win.

One must also mention the seven women’s teams that took part in the rally and were right up there in terms of competitiveness, many of them being seasoned participants in rallies.

The winners in various categories of the Himalayan Drive 8 assemble for a group photo

The winners in various categories of the Himalayan Drive 8 assemble for a group photo

 Siddhartha Bose, director, Just Sportz, delivers the welcome address at the prize distribution ceremony

Siddhartha Bose, director, Just Sportz, delivers the welcome address at the prize distribution ceremony

The overall winners of the HD8, who were finally ranked after a lot of deliberation

The overall winners of the HD8, who were finally ranked after a lot of deliberation

Tamal Ghoshal, director, Just Sportz, announces the winners

Tamal Ghoshal, director, Just Sportz, announces the winners

The participants of the women’s category with the GOC of the Sukhna-headquartered 33 Corps Lieutenant General Tarun Kumar Aich and his wife Saswati Aich and officials

The participants of the women’s category with the GOC of the Sukhna-headquartered 33 Corps Lieutenant General Tarun Kumar Aich and his wife Saswati Aich and officials

Ajoy Shah of JK Tyres at the prize giving ceremony

Ajoy Shah of JK Tyres at the prize giving ceremony

All the organisers of the rally, the officials and the marshals assemble for a group pic after a tough three days on the the course

All the organisers of the rally, the officials and the marshals assemble for a group pic after a tough three days on the the course

Pictures by the author and Ranadip Mandal

Last updated on 31.05.22, 12:12 AM
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