Mahindra Adventure's return to cross-country rallying after a four-year hiatus culminated in the victory for arguably India's best ever rally driver Gaurav Gill and co-driver Musa Sherif. Vishwas S.D was the overall winner in the motorcycle category.
Gill last took part in the Dakshin Dare six years ago, which was the year when Mahindra Adventure first fielded the XUV 500 (which has been competing in front-wheel-drive configuration since 2015) in cross-country rallying. He was triumphant then and duly won this time around too in dominant fashion, completing the 15 special stages in an overall time nearly 15 minutes faster than his own teammate Philippos Matthai (co-driver PVS Moorthy).
Another nine minutes behind Matthai was the highest placed Maruti-Suzuki Motorsport team entry of Samrat Yadav and co-driver Karan Aukta in a rally-prepped S-Cross.
Rally veteran Sandeep Sharma and co-driver Anmol Rampal behind the wheel of a Vitara Brezza were fourth overall, while last year's Dakshin Dare winner Suresh Rana in his Grand Vitara was a disappointing fifth overall.
Mahindra Adventure missed out on claiming a 1-2-3 overall finish after Amittrajit Ghosh and co-driver Ashwin Naik suffered three punctures in three consecutive legs and were forced to retire.
In the bike category, Vishwas S.D claimed the overall title, making the most of overnight leader and firm favourite Yuva Kumar’s misfortune in literally the last Special Stage, SS12, of the rally.
Kumar, who was leading all the way from the start, saw his bike broke down with just 15 kilometres to go, and by the time he could repair the damage, he had lost 15 minutes and the crown.
Vishwas's win brought some cheer to the Angata Racing squad after the tragic events of the India Baja, where their team principal and rally rider Asbak Mon passed away after getting lost during pre-event practice in the desert and subsequently dying of thirst.
Gill and Sherif crossed a significant milestone while claiming their second victory in the Dakshin Dare. It was their 50th rally together (Indian National Rally Championship and cross-country rally events included) and their 31st win. Incredibly, they made the podium each of the 35 times they completed the rally, missing out the remaining 15 times only due to DNFs.