Ali, Mustafa clinch Himalayan Drive 5 title

Indo Asian News Service

Siliguri (West Bengal), March 2 (IANS) Unlike the serpentine mountain roads the rallyists traversed during the course of the five-day "Biswa Bangla JK Tyre Himalayan Drive 5", the results had little twists and turns as favourites Ajgar Ali and Mohammed Mustafa won the title here on Thursday.

The reigning national Time Speed Distance (TSD) champions led from the first day and were on top on all four days to score over others as the marathon rally ended at Club Montana Vista next to Siliguri's City Centre.

This was the duo's second title in this competition, the first coming in the inaugural edition.

"It was really challenging and the weather conditions especially in Nepal and Paro were tough. But the experience we had in Himalayan rally last October was beneficial," Ali said at the prize distribution ceremony.

The winners bagged Rs 1 lakh.

The Bengal-Tamil Nadu pair, who have won India's premier rallies like the Raid de Himalaya and Desert Storm in the adventure categories, were helped by the fact that title contenders Subir Roy and Nirav Mehta pulled out of the reckoning on the second day due to technica snag.

In the open category also, Amit Garg and Abhishek Khemka led from the first day to sweep away the crown.

As per the provisional results, Deep Dutta and Prakash Muthuswamy ranked second and Ashish Budhia and Arindam Ghosh came third in the national rally.

The fourth and fifth positions went to Vikay Kumar Sharma and Chandan Sen and Sandip Mukherjee and Nagarajan Thangaraj respectively.

In the open category, Shrenique Golecha and Sashi Jain ranked second, followed by Pranjal More and Milindo Paul in the third position, Shailesh Jha and Kaushik Halder in fourth position and Bishal Tamang and Vivek Thakuri in the fifth.

The flag off ceremony on Thursday morning was from the town square of Hile (6480 feet), a mountain town nestled in the eastern Himalayas.

Nepal Army's Colonel Vishwa Rawat, Dhankuta district's Chief District Officer Prem Prakash Uprety and some other local dignitaries flagged off the contestants with townsfolk lining the streets and giving a warm send-off to the rallyists.

Overall, the participants drove more than 1,250 kilometres through forests, riverbeds, mountain roads and dirt tracks across three countries (India, Bhutan, Nepal) over five days.

There were four cars from Nepal which also took part, a first time in this competition.