Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare || Rallying through the Monsoon Rains and the Western Ghats

The 9th edition of Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare, an eagerly awaited motorsporting phenomenon, concluded on 22 July 2017. After conquering over 2,000-km-long breathtaking yet challenging terrains over 6 days, Team Maruti Suzuki's Suresh Rana and Ashwin Naik, driving a Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara, won the Ultimate Cars Category, while T Nataraj won the Ultimate Bikes Category. In the Endurance category, Subir Roy and Nirav Mehta drove their Maruti Suzuki Swift to victory.

The 2017 edition was flagged off from Bengaluru on 16 July 2017, and the leg 1 saw participants traverse a distance of 463 kms from Bengaluru to Chitradurga. There's nothing more exciting for a rider than the promise of monsoon rain. The weather promised, but didn't deliver. Day 1 saw a lot of clouds but no rains. However, there were surprises too - the Ultimate Cars category saw the favorites Suresh Rana and Ashwin Naik finish in the third position. T Nataraj, too, finished in the second position after Sanjay Kumar.  Subir Roy and Nirav Mehta, however, gained their lead right on day 1.

The leg 2 through Chitradurga included the first Super Special Stage, a 2-km-long dirt track close to the city. The day also saw the riders traverse the windmill-dotted landscape of Doddakittadahalli. Rana and Naik managed to climb up to the second position, whereas Sandeep Sharma and Karan Arya came in third in the Ultimate category. The Ultimate Bikes category saw a complete reversal. R Nataraj took a lead, followed by Abdul Wajid, and then Sanjay Kumar.

With monsoon rains finally arriving at the scene, leg 3 saw the riders battling the weather and the rocky terrains at Aimangla. This was a 495-km-long leg, and Rana and Naik managed to take a lead despite the heavy rains. Samrat Yadav and S N Nizami, slipped down to the second position. The positions in the Ultimate Bikes category stayed the same, with R Nataraj maintaining his lead.

Leg 4 saw the rally enter Maharashtra towards Kolhapur for the very first time. This was also where the second Super Special Stage was set. Top positions in all the categories remained unchanged, with Rana and Naik maintaining their leads in the Ultimate Cars category and R Nataraj too staying ahead in the Ultimate Bikes. The weather played the perfect adversary, with heavy downpour making it tough particularly for bikers to maintain their balance.

The 5th and last leg of the 2017 Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare culminated in Pune. With rain and slush as their constant companions, the riders arrived in the city to great fanfare. The weather too let up a little towards the end. The rally had proved to be a true test of the riders' perseverance and skills.

With one adventure over, we are already looking forward to the next, which happens to be the Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya rally. Only three international motorsport events are organized in India, and of them the Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya happens to  be one of the oldest.  Conducted at the world’s highest rally camp, about 16,000 feet above the sea level, where temperatures as low as -25 degrees C are common, Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya is rated among the top ten toughest rallies in the world. 

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