The winners of this Great Escape have qualified to participate in the finals that will happen in Igatpuri in 2020
As the weekend rolled by, participants prepared to get down and dirty in Mahindra’s Lonavala Great Escape 2019 Off-roading trophy. It was held on July 21 at the 19 Degree North adventure resort. This Great Escape saw 24 participants attempting to tackle and conquer the obstacles set up by applying their off-roading mettle.
The convoy was flagged off at the Mahindra Tungi resort and saw the participants drive to 19 Degree North Adventure where four obstacle courses were setup. The participants competed in three categories – Stock, Modified and Ladies. The four obstacle courses were laid out differently but the method of grading the competitors was the same, i.e. collecting flags gives you points and displacing the cones gives you penalties. Every participant was given three attempts at each obstacle course and a set time to complete it. Failing to finish the course in time, three attempts or displacing the cones results in a DNF or if a competitor gets stuck, he/she needs to be winched out and points are given only for the flags taken.
Participants were driving their Thars and other off-roaders some of which were in stock trim while some were modified with one sole purpose – demolishing trails. The co-driver had the option to guide the driver whilst seated in the car or from the outside. The first obstacle course involved two steep inclines with barely any build up area and a bunch of big rocks near the finish. The second one was laid out over a larger area with one section going through a dense overhang of trees. The third stage started at the foot of a hill and participants had to navigate steep gradients and turns to reach the finish. The fourth and final obstacle course was a pair of steep almost vertical climbs with a small strip to build up speed in the start.
The event was riddled with the off-roaders getting stuck and needing to be winched out, participants almost finishing the obstacles but couldn’t because they ran out of attempts or misgauged how much throttle or steering input should be given. There was a participant who lost ignition after stalling right before the last part of an obstacle course and the kick in the gut for him was that he had put up a stellar show right up to that point. Another participant had to leave a course because his Thar started leaking oil.
First place in the Modified category was bagged by Abhijeet Dhumal Deshmukh while second place was tied between Ajit Bache and Vabhav Shelukar. First place in the Stock category was Pushker Prakash Audi and Ravi Bhalla took second. Dr Vani Parmar was the winner of the Ladies category.
The winners at this Great Escape have qualified to participate in the finals which will be held in Igatpuri in 2020 and the winner of that event will win a Mahindra Thar.
Words by Karan Ramgopal