SRINAGAR, June 29: With hours to go for the third Jammu and Kashmir Bank Mughal Rally to be flagged off, there is excitement in the air at the Royal Springs Golf Course in Srinagar, from where top rallyists of the country will zoom off Saturday to ensure a top spot at one of the most awaited and hotly contested motorsport events of the country.
The track used by the legendary Akbar and later Mughal emperors through the sylvan Pir Panjal range of the Western Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir will now witness these automobile racing champions locked in battle for the top spot.
Even though there was curfew in Srinagar today, rallyists from various parts of India who were driving their competitive vehicles from various parts of the country to reach Srinagar on June 29 managed to find ways to reach their destination.
The rallyists converged at the Royal Springs Golf Course, where scrutiny of the vehicles for the rally was to be held for the event.
By the end of the day, only three to four rallyists who were transporting their vehicles to Srinagar through trucks could not make it to Srinagar on account of the curfew.
It’s a formidable grouping indeed, and some of the biggest Indian automobile manufacturers are here with their handpicked teams to ensure victory.
Team Mahindra has placed its bets high with individual teams headed by Gaurav Gill, Karamjit Singh, Lohitt Urs and Sunny Sidhu.
Team Tata blazes into The Mughal Rally with Sanjay Takale of Pune, Toufeeq Mughal of Srinagar and Arindam Ghosh of Kolkata.
The country’s largest automobile manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki, is looking at lifting the Mughal Rally crown with its single entry in Xtreme 4X4, Suresh Rana.
There are a number of private entries too at the event, taking on these motorsport champions.
For the first time, the Mughal Rally also has a homegrown grouping of Kashmir entering the competitive fray – Baba Reshi Lions – with seven individual teams. Overall, the representation of women is also higher at the event this year.
The Rally Xtreme has 132 kms of competitive stretches on Day One, with two stages of 66 kms each. On Day Two, the Extremers will take on two competitive stretches of 86 kms each to battle for the top spot at the event.
Despite challenging conditions, a 100-plus vehicles – including SUVs, cars and motorbikes, were checked that they adhered to the strictest safety conditions of the Federation of Motor Sport Clubs of India (FMSCI) and the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, the governing bodies for Indian and international motor sporting events respectively.