Pune: Defending champions Ajgar Ali and Mohammed Mustafa successfully retained their title at the JK Tyre Himalayan Drive that finished in Darjeeling on Wednesday.
They beat the hot-in-pursuit Kolkata duo of Subir Roy and Nirav Mehta by a narrow five penalty points advantage to bring the rally to an exciting finish.
The five-day event, India’s only Tri-Nation TSD (Time, Speed, Distance) rally, took 24 teams across Nepal, North Bengal and Bhutan over 1,615 tough kilometers before ending in Darjeeling.
The competition remained close right from day 1 with the defending champions picking up 54 penalty points, just eight penalty points less than the Subir-Nirav duo.
In the next leg, Subir and Nirav performed slightly better by getting 54 penalty points, just two less that Ajgar and Musthafa.
Two legs of the rally -- Leg 2 and 3 -- in Nepal were cancelled due to technical problems arising out of rallying through different time zones.
In the Open category too, the team of Gagan Sethi and Dhiraj Arrora maintained their lead right from the first day and emerged champions with a cumulative score of 1,493 penalty points.
In the SUV category, Amit Dhanotia and Anuragh Agarwala emerged winners with 9,461 penalty points, while in the ‘Above 1300 cc category’, Pranai Rai and Nanki Kharki from Kalimpong took the title with 11,124 penalty points.
The final leg of the rally was flagged off from the Tashi Namgay Grand Hotel above Phuentsholing in Bhutan on Tuesday morning. The teams crossed into India at Jaigaon and drove past the Jaldapara National Park, which is home to the Royal Bengal Tigers, one-horned rhinos.
The rally then hit the hills and passed through Samsing, Gorubathan, Lava and the charming hill station of Kalimpong and then continued through the steep, tea bush-covered hills of Peshoke to reach Darjeeling in the evening through Jorebungalow. They covered nearly 250 kilometers, of which the competitive section covered 180 kilometers.
The scenic and iconic Mall in Darjeeling provided the perfect setting for the prize distribution ceremony. The Himalayan Drive 6 champions Ajgar Ali and Mohammed Musthafa received a cheque worth Rs 1 lakh; the runners-up got Rs 50,000 while the third-placed Rs 25,000.