Dirang Valley, April 16
Amanpreet Ahluwalia extended his good run on the second day of the JK Tyre Arunachal Festival of Speed here on Sunday, taking four of the five special stages to stay in contention for the overall championship. Riding a Maruti Gypsy, the former Indian National Rally champion registered a time of 34 minutes and 32 seconds to open up a comfortable lead of 28 seconds over second placed K.M. Bopaiah. Bopaiah, the top seeded rallyist in the fray here, took advantage of his 1600cc Vento’s speed to win the last stage of the day, zipping on the one-kilometre tarmac stretch and an easy three-kilometre valley floor. However, he couldn’t match Amanpreet in the other stages. Delhi’s seasoned rallyist Sandeep Sharma held on to his third place, 24 seconds behind Bopaiah and 52 behind Amanpreet.
“It was quite a happening day for us. We have a decent lead as of now. But till the time it’s actually over, it’s never over. So fingers crossed,” Amanpreet said.
“The first stage was the trickiest today as it was reduced by 4kms due to overnight rain. What is meant was that all the downhill stretches were gone and it became an uphill stage,” he added.
Bopaiah conceded that his car was not an apt one for a rally of this nature.
“We did well wherever speed came into play. But during the climbs and the rougher terrain we struggled a bit,” he said.
He was, however, confident that with a little bit of luck he could still make it to the top of the podium.
It all began early in the morning, with the drivers testing their mettle against a steep gradient made up of gravel road to reach the majestic monastery atop the hill.
It ended even as the sun was quickly going down behind the mountains, with spectators getting a spectacular view of cars racing down the valley into the Sangti river bed.
In between, they had to the sensational hill climb which was almost vertical , extending up to 6 kilometres.
Three competitors gave up the fight after the third stage, leaving the field open for seven top rallyists from different parts of the country.
In the Sprint Runs for the local drivers, Babit Lyngdoh continued to rule the roost, enjoying an eight second advantage over his six opponents after four more rounds on Sunday.
Lyngdoh registered a time of 6 minutes and 56 seconds while Amitabh Indar held on to the second spot with 7:04 minutes.
Kevin Puro was third at 7:12 minutes.
Dirang Valley, April 16