Bengaluru, Aug 2 (IANS) The seventh edition of the Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare Rally was flagged off here on Sunday with 170 competitors vying for honours in three different categories in the six-day five-leg off-road motorsport event along the gruelling but scenic 2,000-km stretch from here to Hyderabad.
The four-wheelers (Ultimate Car) category will see the participation of 24 teams while the two-wheelers (Ultimate Bike) category will have 43 riders. The Endurance Car category will have 38 contenders. The organisers are claiming that the event will see more than 40 percent of new contestants.
The rally will cover a total distance of 2,000 km in five legs and the competitors will have to traverse through Davangere, Shimoga, Hampi, Gulbarga, Chitradurga and Bellary before culminating in Hyderabad on August 7.
The tarmac and uneven rocky paths across the route will make it even more arduous, especially with the occasional monsoon showers.
Team Maruti’s Sandeep Sharma (co-driver Varun Davessar), driving a Gypsy, is confident of defending the title in the four-wheeler category. But he will face stiff competition from nine-time Raid de Himalaya and and three-time winner of Desert Storm, Suresh Rana (Parminder Thakur), who is eager to taste maiden victory at the south Indian rally.
“I am confident and positive ahead of the race and I am looking to be consistent over the next six days,” Rana, who drives a Gypsy, said during the flag-off at the Orion Mall here.
Reigning Raid de Himalaya champion Amartej Pal Buwal in a Maruti Swift will also be a top contender.
Defending champions in the Endurance category, Karthik Maruti and Sankar Anand are also upbeat about putting up a good show.
Two-wheeler defending champion Mohit Verma, driving a KTM 390cc, will also face strong challenge.
On Saturday, the drivers were briefed and their vehicles were scrutinised by an expert panel to comply with international safety standards.
Flagging off the rally, Tarun Garg, Sr. Vice President, National Sales & Network, Maruti Suzuki, said: “Pioneered in 2009, Dakshin Dare is our effort to provide the thrill of off-road rallying experience to motorsport enthusiasts in south India. Dakshin Dare is a recipe of thrill, beauty, cars, talent, twists and turns.
“It challenges motorsport enthusiasts to achieve greater milestones in their motorsport journey. We believe that rallies bring out the best in men and machines, and the increasing participation each year is encouraging and helps us strengthen such motorsport events.”