Coming into the rally, Suresh Rana (with co-driver Ashwin Naik) were clear favourites for retaining their title, but little did they know that they would have to face a fierce challenge from young-gun Samrat Yadav (with co-driver S N Nizami). The battle between the two in the Ultimate Cars category was a delight to watch at the 2017 Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare.
The rally raid had a new set of stages for 2017 going from Bangalore to Chitradurga and Belgaum and then finally entering Maharashtra for the first time, culminating in Pune. Majority of the stages were run on gravel but the latter stages also had broken tarmac sections. The rally also featured two SSS stages. Introduced in2016, the SSS has been instrumental in bringing more crowd in to witness these rallyists giving it their all, around a closed course.
Samrat was a surprise leader of the rally on the opening two days in his Maruti Gypsy. Rana had suffered punctures on his Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara on the opening day and was still finding his way on the following day. It was during leg three that the tables turned in Rana’s favour as Samrat nearly toppled his Gypsy, losing precious minutes and thus handing the lead to the Manali man. The gap between the two, was over a minute and half. Samrat did top the fourth day and brought down the overall gap to Rana to 38 seconds in the final leg. A differential failure robbed us of a cracker of a final day as Rana held on to win his second Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare by a margin of three and a half minutes. Sandeep Sharma (with co-driver Karan Arya) faded away after leg three, settling in for a comfortable third spot.
TVS Racing racked up yet another win at the Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare with their rider R Nataraj winning yet again for a second year running. Piloting the RTR 450 FX, Nataraj was the fastest man right from the start of the rally. Although teammate Abdul Wahid Tanveer did his best to match Nataraj’s pace in the initial stages, he could not keep up with Nataraj after the third leg; losing by a margin of close to three minutes. Privateer Sanjay Kumar finished 14 minutes 15 seconds behind Nataraj to claim the final spot on the podium.
The 10th edition of the Dakshin Dare will be held between September 1st to September 8th, 2018 starting from Bangalore and flagging down in Goa. The week long long event is known to give a tough challenge for the participants in the form of rough terrains for a distance of more than 2,000km including transport stages. A total of five stages will be held spanning the distance from Bengaluru to Goa.
Watch this space for all the action from the 2018 Dakshin Dare!