The India Baja 2017 seems to be bringing back the golden days of Indian rallying with four special stages organised on Day 1. The special stages spanned over 290kms excluding the transport, making it one of the longest days in Indian rallying in recent times. No wonder this event has qualified to be a part of the Dakar Challenge series.
Starting sharp at 6:00 AM, 32 participants were flagged off from Majid ki Basti near Jaisalmer for stage 1. Stage 2 was held in the sand dunes of Asu Tar followed by stage 3 which started from Banda. At the end of stage 4 in Bhuwana, only 14 of the 32 participants managed to cross the finish line while the others either crashed, broke down or lost their way over four stages. Stage three turned out to be the toughest contributing to a major chunk of DNFs.
Raj Singh Rathore turned out to be the fastest man on four wheels, finishing before Gaurav Chirpal by almost a minute. Himanshu Arora delivered a strong performance and held on to the third place in those tricky conditions. Rallying veteran and favourite Sunny Sidhu unfortunately lost his way in stage 2, ending up with a DNF. The blistering Rajasthan heat and tough conditions combined with a difficult terrain took a toll on the drivers as well as machines. As usual, it was heartening to see women participants fighting neck-to-neck with their male counterparts, taking both victory and defeat in their stride and displaying true sportsperson spirit.
Day 2 will cover two stages from Bhuwana to Mangaliyawas and from Turkon ki Basti to Majid ki Basti, covering almost 141 kilometres of competitive distance en route.