Going through a sandy route of 450 kilometers with very sandy tracks, hills and fast gravel sections, the sixth running of the Royal Rajasthan Rally ran from Jaipur to Mandwa, albeit the long way around. The road route is only 170km but rallyists are known to be gluttons for punishment.
In between the two points of Jaipur and Mandwa were the stops of Ramgarh, Shahpura, Rengus, Sikar and Udaipurwati.
There were sections of the rally that proved to be particularly challenging for competitors at times, including time control at Mahensar village where 14 vehicles got stuck on the top of a sand dune due to killing their momentum by braking.
Forty-two vehicles were entered in two categories; 31 four-wheel-drive SUVs in the Sand-Storm category and 11 two-wheel-drive cars in the Track and Trails category. Niju Padia and co-driver Nirav Mehta were victorious in the rally-prep section of the Sand Storm class in their Mitsubishi Pajero.
For those that followed the Desert Storm Rally that was held earlier in the year, Padia’s Pajero had gotten into trouble on technical grounds that cost him the second overall position in the Maruti-Suzuki sponsored event.
This time around, however, Padia didn’t run into trouble with following the regulations and was crowned the overall winner ahead of Rajendra Singh Tarpura and co-driver Nagarajan.
Tarpura was driving the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross, which has been a regular on the podium of cross-country rallies this year. After an overall third place finish in the Desert Storm and then a second place in the India Baja, Isuzu’s very popular pick-up made it three-in-a-row in the desert of Rajasthan.
But word has come that the vehicle will soon be featured in a very different environment as former Polaris competitor Raj Singh Rathore – who drove the car in the India Baja – confirmed that he is working on getting the car ready to compete in the Raid de Himalaya later this year.
Rathore, of course, famously took overall victory at the 2015 edition of the Raid in a Polaris only to be stripped of the win due to trouble with its registration papers.
Rathore was eventually left high-and-dry by Polaris when they backed out of motorsport entirely ahead of the Desert Storm this year. This has, however, left him free to pursue full-time competition with Isuzu.
The team of driver Punyabrata and co-driver Mrinmoy were third overall in their Gypsy, still a vehicle that is likely to pop up in events like this due to its affordability and off-road capability.
In the Track and Trail category Vishal Jain/Tripur Chandran, Nitin Yadav/Vipin Choudhary, Subir Roy/Surabjit Dutt were on the podium while Ashima Kaushik/Siddharth and Tania Dua/Ritu Mehta were the top two among the women competitors in that category.
Manisha Khanna and co-driver Malu Gupta were the winners among the women in the Sand Storm rally-prep class.