The 2017 Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare flagged off in Bengaluru on 16 July. In its ninth edition now, the annual southern motorsport rally witnessed a participation of 180 rallyists. What's new this year is that the rally will make way not only to the south but also to the west across Kolhapur before culminating in Pune, Maharashtra. The rally is divided into three categories â€“ Endurance, Ultimate Car and Ultimate Bike; with participating teams covering over 2000 kilometres across five legs in a span of six days.
After the regulatory stickering, documentation and scrutiny, the first leg was flagged off in Bengaluru with last yearâ€™s winners Suresh Rana and Aswin Naik leading the way in their Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara. The reigning champions were to face a stiff competition from Sandeep Sharma and Karan Arya driving their Maruti Suzuki Gypsy in the Ultimate cars category. The duo of Jagmeet Gill and Chandan Sen with their Vitara Brezza locked horns with Karthik Maruthi and Sankar Anand driving the S-Cross in the endurance car category.
After Day 1, the participants covered a total distance of 463 kilometre through muddy terrains of Chitradurga. The pair of Samrat Yadav and S Nizami finished with a total time of 02:45:26. Coming a close second with a time of 02:46:35 was Sandeep Sharma and Karan Arya of Team Maruti Suzuki. Suresh Rana and Ashwin Naik settled for the third position. The endurance category tested participantâ€™s capabilities in the TSD format where Subir Roy and Nirav Mehta led the rally, followed by Raghu Nandan and M Prakash.
The rally moved to the scenic Chitradurga for the Super Special Stage (SSS). Introduced last year, the SSS tests the skills on the proving grounds while bringing the action close to the cityâ€™s spectators. The first SSS in the city was spread across two kilometres. Samrat Yadav and co-driver S N Nizami bypassed all their competitors maintaining their lead on Day 2 of 2017 Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare. They finished the leg in 04:55:04. While Suresh Rana and co-driver Ashwin Naik did the same in 04:58:13, grabbing the second spot, followed by Sandeep Sharma with co-driver Karan Arya in their Maruti Gypsy who managed a time of 04:59:50.
The leg three was held at the narrow and rocky terrains of Aimangala which ended in Belgavi on day 4. Suresh Rana with his co-pilot Ashwin Naik, bagged the lead covering the distance in 06:59:02. Whereas, Samrat Yadav and co-driver S N Nizami slipped to the second rank clocking a time of 07:00:15. Sandeep Sharma with co-driver Karan Arya covered the distance in 07:05:46 settling at third in the Ultimate cars category.