8th Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare Concludes : Experience and interviews with the participants

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Added in: Maruti Suzuki

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The 8th edition of the Dakshin Dare traversing through challenging route from Bengaluru to Goa has been an eventful one. Not only did the participants agree that this year`s route was more challenging than ever, Maruti Suzuki also has a reason to cheer more with 190 participants, the highest ever!

Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare is also backed by a strong association with Mobil 1. Mobil 1 is the official lubricant partner for the 8th edition of Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare.

About Mobil :Mobil enjoys an established legacy as a product technology leader with the highest level of expertise, working side-by-side with leading OEMs and component builders in India. Mobil’s collaboration with Maruti Suzuki is premised on Mobil’s high performance lubricants and technology leadership. The name Mobil has a long laid history in motorsports. Mobil’s history in motorsports officially began in 1978 with a sponsorship of the Williams Formula 1 team.

The six-day event was flagged off from Bengaluru last Sunday, with the off-roads of Coorg, Shimoga and Goa acting tough on the participants. The challenges were braved by 190 participants, highest ever in the history of Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare, with their set of techniques and skill.

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Mr. Vinay Pant, Assistant Vice President, Marketing, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, said, “Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare has grown tremendously over the years, gaining a very strong foothold in motorsport in South India. Record breaking participation numbers with longest rally route are certainly in agreement to the claims. We are elated to see exceeding female participation in our rallies as well, which also serves our purpose of reaching and influencing a larger audience each year.”

Maruti Suzuki was kind enough to give us, the media folk a taste of the rigours of rallying along with the participants at the Super Special leg at Shimogga. The 3.3kms track was proper dirt as you can see from the images.

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From The Co-Drivers Seat : I was lucky to ride shotgun with Sanjay Agarwal in his prepped Maruti Suzuki Gypsy, the popular choice across most of the participants. As soon as I wriggled into the racing seat, I was given a Peltor helmet with intercom to talk to Sanjay. On a normal day, Venu Rameshkumar would be belting out pace notes to Sanjay and here he was helping me secure myself in the vice-like 5 point harness seatbelt. Anyone who has been strapped into a proper FMSCI and FIA certified race seat with the belts is surely and likely to feel invincible as I did. I shook hands with Sanjay in anticipating the thrill that awaited me, we exchanged pleasantries, honestly in all the excitement I don`t really recollect what I was blabbering.

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As soon as the countdown begun, Sanjay started blipping aggressively raising the engine revs and “dumped” the clutch as all the 4 wheels started digging in to the dirt propelling us ahead viciously. Hitting the rev limiter in jiffy and shifting into the 2nd cog, I noticed Sanjay deftly nudging the transfer case lever engaging into 2H on the fly. Little did I know, he had just opened the door to the drift party!! By the end of the main straight, he braked hard while I braced myself for a possible crash from not being able to slow down enough. Quickly downshifting into the 1st, Sanjay flicked the steering and dabbed the throttle coercing the car into a controlled drift turn after turn. I couldn`t help but grin each time the leaf sprung rally car was coaxed in to spectacular sideway drifts bobbing over the dirt ruts around the short course. Every glance at Sanjay revealed the same choreographed mayhem in motion, twirling the steering to correct the line, speedy gear shifts and the pedal pandemonium with clutch, brake and gas – no dull moment, not for a second. The thrilling lap was over within a couple of minutes, which was sure to leave any rally fan spell bound. I thanked and wished Sanjay luck for the rest of the rally before popping out of the seat feeling elated. In the hindsight, after the first hand experience I have come out with deep respect for rally drivers for the immense hard work they put in day after day in the quest for the podium.

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Tete a tete with the rally stars of Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare 2016 :

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Sanjay Rana and Parminder Thakur

Congratulations, how does it feel to win by a narrow margin?

SR : Its feels great. MSDakshin Dare was the only silverware missing from my achievements while rallying in India, and today we have achieved it. On the penultimate stage, we suffered a puncture and that closed the lead to Sandeep Sharma (2nd overall) which made it exciting as well as challenging. But despite the narrow lead, we planned to take the last stage conservatively and cautiously without taking any unnecessary risks. All we hoped for was that our closest competitor does not push too much and close the gap on us. We managed to gain back about 1.20 mins from the 4 mins that we had lost in the earlier stage due to the flat. But this is part and parcel of rallying. I enjoyed the competition since we were close to each other on timings than to being leading the rally all alone.

Whats is the secret behind being ferociously quick once inside the car and calm and collected otherwise?

I believe the more cooler you are with your temperament while driving, the faster you go. I have been asked why there is no dirt flying around when you drive the car, but you still manage to get good stage times. It is really important to know the course well and just go flat out at all times. Even though this is rallying, it helps immensely by maintaining a clean line throughout the course consistently and not going sideways though it looks cool. I have advised new comers to prevent sideways action which is otherwise a waste of time. This rally did not allow for a recce so we had to take it even more cautiously and stick to the pace notes provided to us. I maintain this strategy of pacing the stage where I usually go flat out for the first 10-15kms and then take it easy on a rough patch and then attack again in the remaining 5-10kms of the stage. The navigator plays a 50% role and if he misses a note then I manage it myself.

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Do you fancy road racing? Can we expect to see you on a race track?

No! Never. I like rallying on the rough terrain. So i`m happy to compete in the rally formats only and it will always stay that way. I have never tried road racing. Kaza is the section which is my personal favourite and I would like to keep competing there and improve my record of 72 mins to cover that section.

Are there any special preparations to your Grand Vitara setup wise or at tuning levels before a rally?

Not really. I have dependable support crew who keep my car in proper shape. The car remains more or less in the same setup at all races and stages. I don’t interfere in chip level tuning or suspension set ups, I just race with what is given to me. I have always enjoyed the Coorg stages and the better suspension setup of the Vitara apart from it being a 2.4ltr helps a lot. I enjoyed driving a lot in the slush.

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Sandeep Sharma and Karan Arya

Congratulations on winning the runners up position! That was close with Rana, you almost managed to close the gap?

SS: Yes, we were pushing very hard throughout the rally. The course was challenging and knowing that the leading pair had a much powerful car, we had to push even harder. In the last stage we decided to maintain the position and not push too hard risking any breakdown or damage to the car. It was more retaining the second spot.

Do you miss having the Grand Vitara as it was with Rana?

Well the car definitely makes a difference, but we have to get the best out of what is given.

How is this year`s rally in comparison to last year`s Dakshin Dare? How was the Coorg stage?

This year`s stage is rougher and longer, the distances are greater. So we have to nurture the car and attack accordingly to finish the leg. The Coorg stage was very slushy and technical so we had to change the driving style every according to the terrain.

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Sanjay Agarwal and Venu

Congratulations on the overall win! How was the overall experience?

It was a tough course and the terrain was also quite demanding on the car. On the penultimate day we went a bit too fast over dip and suffered a steering knuckle breakage which dropped us 2 places lower the order. We managed to gain back the 2 places after the service repairs, so it feels good to pick up a trophy.

How different was it compared to previous editions?

This rally was challenging with a different route. Coorg was quite difficult slush to be tackled with, but we had to be careful at Shimoga and we also had a suspension breakdown.

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Harvinder Bhola and Amber Udasi – The sister duo

Congratulations for being the top of the pack amongst the female drivers. What were your expectations from this event?

The rally has been very tough and we are very happy with the result especially since Jasmohan Saini has finished in the 3rd in the Ultimate cars category. So it’s a great achievement for us all.

Where does this rallying inspiration come from?

Firstly its my brother in law who has been rallying for a long time so we took to the sport since we loved it too.

What goes on in your mind at the start of the stage? Being sisters, how do you approach each stage and who is more aggressive between you two?

Amber – All we think of is the Finish line. We are always focused on finishing the stage with minimum possible mistakes, and just attack. We have been rallying for quite some time now so we understand each other well which helps, but at times I`m yelling at the top of my voice with the notes for her to go fast and at times I have to slow down if she is going way too fast. At times if we miss the notes, she takes over cautiously before I can resume with the notes. We also practice around Delhi and Chandigarh at times but most of the times its about giving the best in the rallies.

Aishwarya P 5th Overall 165cc class

How is your rally progressing? Tell us about your experience so far.

Its going well, its quite tough due to the terrain which I am not used to. This is my first ever participation in a rally which is totally and I have never ridden in slush and all. I have been doing track racing for a few months now but this is a new experience. I had no idea of what was coming around the next turn, nothing and I had to be alert and keep riding and save myself. I am definitely not as comfortable as I am on a road bike but with practice I will get comfortable on the bike and this rally is like a big practice for me.

Rally or Racing?

I wouldn’t say anything about that as of now.

Considering the crashes you had, did you at any point feel like giving up?

No, every time I fell down, I picked the bike up and continued. At the start of the rally I was told to go slow and take it easy. I got help on 2 occasions to get back on the bike, rest of the times I managed it on my own, so I figured out a way how not to fall again. Falling happens everytime but you learn.

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We also managed to speak to the organizing committee members of the 2016 Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare:

Since the number of entries in Dakshin Dare alone are rising every year, where do you see motorsports in India headed in the coming years with respect to sponsorships etc?

Jaidas Menon (FMSCI): The Federation has a lot of events and especially a sponsor like Maruti alone is running 3 major events which is good. So every year we have new things to discover while these events are planned and organized. The TSD event also is attracting a lot of participants now compared to what it was before. The sport needs more support from media. Rallying especially is challenging as the media gets limited coverage from a certain sport whereas in Racing, you can have 4 different cameras and cover all the corners. FIA APRC running the 2016 Finale in India is a good step ahead for rallying, and the highlight is that the course will be close to the course that has been covered in Dakshin Dare around Chikmagalur.

Tushar Agarwal (MS motorsports): Adding to it, rallying and these events that we are doing helps the riders to gain experience and lot of practice which helps them further in motorsports. Even for Desert Storm, a lot of Austrian participants had joined to gain experience which helps to boost the overall motorsports scenario in India.

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Since there is emphasis on media coverage, can we expect the Super Special stages to be more exciting, perhaps held in bigger cities in a stadium like environment similar to the Global Rally Cross which could attract more media and coverage?

Tushar Agarwal (MS motorsports): Yes definitely, we are really motivated and we are sure of better turnout and participation. We are really motivated to try this out at a bigger scale in the future, which will give more variety in stages. Apart from this we want to explore more avenues in racing in India, eg the TSD. There will be a lot more activities happening which will invite the mass participation that we expect. We are working towards it and we will see some progress in the near future.

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The 2016 Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare has been one unique event that put the drivers through its paces with some of most challenging terrains entwined through scenic locales, Bengaluru through Goa.

The participants now look forward to the grueling stages of Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya 2016.

Mobil 1 is perfect for such rallies since it remains at the forefront, under any driving conditions. Mobil 1 protects the engine with its quality motor oil that prevents engine wear and breakdown, giving the engine a longer life. As The World’s Leading Synthetic Engine Oil, Mobil 1 features a proprietary multi-Layer Anti-Wear technology that provides performance beyond conventional engine oils and allows Mobil 1 to exceed the toughest standards – delivering exceptional protection against engine wear, even in challenging driving conditions

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