LONAVLA: Traversing the natural off-roading terrain in the Western plateau around Lonavala in the midst of monsoon season is an adventure without doubt. With the rains pouring the way it has been for last so many days there could be no better setting to test off-roading skills than this scenic terrain where natural rivers sprung out every other day depending on the fury of rain.
Over 60 SUVs from Mahindra’s stable lined up to challenge the terrain for the 150th Great Escape-one of India’s most popular off-road adventures-which was flagged off by Pune’s international rally driver Sanjay Takale, who is readying himself for his debut World Rally Championship round scheduled in Finland.
This was second Great Escape of Season 8, which began in Goa wherein both 2WD and 4WD vehicles maneuvered the challenging route.
This Great Escape saw participation from Mahindra owners from Pune, Mumbai, Nashik and neighbouring areas.
The first stage itself was the most challenging where many got stuck in slush that got worst after early starters took wrong lines and worsened the course conditions after the flag-off from Club Mahindra, Tungi.
Without doubt the Thars dominated the event nonetheless the spirit of competitors driving Boleros, Scorpios, XUVs and KUVs, was infectious.
The competitors were tested in their off-road driving skills through different stages of the natural terrain in specially designed tracks for both 2WD and 4WD vehicles. From slippery and steep inclines and descents, to driving through flowing streams and slush, the participants had a chance to experience the true capability of their vehicles and at the same time enjoy the thrill of off-roading.
The Mahindra Great Escape was first conceptualized in 1996 as a non-competitive, off-road event meant to encourage Mahindra owners to test the strength and performance of their vehicles on terrain other than tarmac. Over the years, the Great Escape has developed the reputation of being one of India’s most thrilling off-road events.