The Baja Rally, notorious for its terrains and difficulty across the globe, has made it to India. Northern Motorsport, a known name in Indian motorsport, has brought the cross country rally concept to India and successfully ran the first ever India Baja over the last weekend.
The first iteration of the India Baja was fought over 300kms of competitive stages and an overall race distance of about 500kms. Held across the unhindered desert terrain near Bikaner in Rajasthan, India Baja saw over 60 participants competing in three categories – T1 for modified cars/bikes, T2 for stock cars/bikes and T3 for purpose built vehicles/quads.
The race was flagged off on the afternoon of February 13 from Bikaner and went on continuously for almost 24 hours straight. CS Santosh, the Indian rally ace and Dakar participant admitted that the night stages were quite challenging. With only 7 motorcycles and 10 cars managing to make it to the finish line, the results are a testimony to the gruelling nature of Baja.
T1 category was won by Team Maruti’s Suresh Rana and his co-driver Ashwin Naik while teammates Niju Padia and navigator Neerav Mehta won the T2 category. Raj Singh Rathore with Rihen Bharadwaj driving shotgun drove their Polaris to win T3. On motorcycles, CS Santosh became the first ever winner of the India Baja in T1 category while Jaipur resident Jes David rode to the top of the podium in T2. Pramod Joshua, another motorsport veteran, rode his Suzuki Z400 Quad to victory.
The organisers, Northern Motorsport, maintained their focus on safety in spite of the length of the race. Upbeat after the successful execution of the first India Baja, the organisers plan to take the event to the next level by roping in international competition from the next year.