The country's top TSD rally crews were engaged in a bitter battle for the winner's trophy in the first Uttarakhand Adventure Car Rally which was flagged off in Dehradun on Sunday morning with 31 teams participating and all reaching Auli Ski resort for the night halt after surviving a snowfall en route.
On Day 1, there was a difference of only a few seconds between TSD Rally champions Jagmeet Gill (navigator Chandan Das), 2012 national champion Satish Gopalkrishnan (Savera D'Souza) from Bangalore, Vishnu Singh (Adithya Anthony) and Somdev Chanda (Nirav Mehta). All these are competitors in the SUV category.
In the cars category, Rajesh Challana (Yogesh Gupta), Ajgar Ali (M. Mustafa) and Shekhar Chaudhry (Suvrajit Dutta) were locked in a tight battle.
The rally went past Rishikesh, Shivpuri, Dev Prayag, Rudra Prayag, Karan Prayag, Chamoli and Joshimath to end at Auli after covering about 300 km.
Satish Gopalkrishnan said the road was clean tarmac and the drive was beautiful and scenic. "The competition is very high because some of the best TSD rallyists in the country are here," he said.
Dehradun deputy commissioner customs and central excise Raghvendra Pal Singh, who is also participating in the rally, said almost all hotels and dharamshalas on the way were closed.
"Tourist flow is very low because of the fear caused by the calamity in June. Such an event was desperately needed to send out the message that roads and other conditions are fine now and the state is a good destination for holidays," he said.
Dehradun deputy commissioner-cum-district magistrate B. Purushottam is also participating in the rally with teammate Madhukar Naik, private secretary to union minister of social justice Balram Naik.
Capt. Devendra Kumar Sachan, chief pilot of the Uttarakhand government, is also participating in the rally with teammate Lokesh Lohia, a major industrialist of the state.
Uttarakhand Adventure Car Rally will cover about 850 km on mountains and plains. The rally route will touch some of the favourite tourism attractions in the state.
The rally is being organised by Himalayan Motorsport which conducts the Raid de Himalaya.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed - IANS)