The second day of the Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare Rally saw change in hands in lead positions as Chandigarh’s Amanpreet Ahluwalia braved through slippery and slushy terrain to snatch the pole position from Suresh Rana in the Extreme Category on Tuesday. Team Maruti’s Amanpreet,along with his navigator Venuramesh,stamped their dominance over the Coorg region of Western Ghats to leapfrog ace rallyist Rana into number one position in the four-wheel drive. The Bangalore-based pair of Sanjay Agarwal and Shiva Prakash came third in their yellow Gypsy. Chandigarh-based Amanpreet was 137 seconds ahead of Rana,followed by Sanjay two minutes behind the eight-time Raid-de Himalaya and thrice Desert Storm champion. It was one of the most challenging terrains which tested the grit and determination of the drivers to the core. The variety of terrain and ever altering weather along the route made all three Super Stages a challenge for drivers to overcome. The three stages,which comprised nine Legs,saw the cancellation of four Legs due to slushy terrain where cars got stuck midway. Two legs each in Super Stage 2 and 3 had to be cancelled and rescue teams were pressed into action to lift vehicles out of the mud. Amanpreet held his nerve and staved off a stiff challenge from Rana and Agarwal,the oldest driver in the rally at 48,to lead the herd in the slippery dirt track drive about the lush coffee and pepper plantations. The final stretch was done in intermittent rains as Rana’s bid to make a comeback in his Grand Vitara was foiled by his Team Maruti compatriot.
The extreme category vehicles moved about 80km on the eastern slopes of Western Ghats where three stages totalling 78km took place The rally traversed through wet Malnad region via Nagarhole National Park,through the southernmost tip of Deccan Plateau in Kerala at Wayanad and climbed up through tangled jungles and deep valleys towards Nilgiris and reached Ooty by end of the day.