Sudip and Arindham Ghosh ended with 568 penalty seconds © Getty Images (Representational Image)
Sudip and Arindham Ghosh ended with 568 penalty seconds © Getty Images (Representational Image)

Siliguri: Kolkata duo of Sudip and Arindam Ghosh emerged champions in the 4th edition of the JK Tyre Himalyan Drive, country’s only international TSD Cross-Country Rally, which also covered Bhutan. Sudip and Arindham ended with 568 penalty seconds, eight less than second-place finishers Jogendra Kumar Jaiswal and Prasenjit Roy. There was a tough fight for the third and fourth rankers. Pratik Sirkar and Debasish Ghosh who had a final score of 832 penalty seconds finished third while Rajiv Sarkar and Chandu Sekhar followed them 836 penalty seconds.

Though the champions Sudip and Arindam had built a sizeable lead over their closest rivals on the first two days of the five-day rally, they slipped in the last three days with many more penalty points than the Jaiswal-Roy duo. It was only the lead they established in the first two days that saw them through to finish on top. The fortunes of Rajiv and Chandu kept fluctuating throughout the rally. They were in second position at the end of Day 1 but slipped to third rank on Day 2, sank to fourth on the next two days, but did better on the last leg to ascend to the third position.

However, their final scores placed them in the fourth position overall. The rally had started from Siliguri s City Center on February 28 and culminated at the same venue yesterday. The rally route covered the forests, tea gardens and riverbeds of North Bengal and the Duars, narrow roads skirting the precipitous mountain slopes of the eastern Himalayas, the picturesque Paro Valley in Bhutan, a high mountain pass and the verdant, fog-enveloped Darjeeling Hills.

“The rally was tough and challenging, however, driving at such a high altitude and difficult terrain was equally thrilling. My driving mettle was put to severe test. Winning this rally brings to me a tremendous sense of achievement,” Sudip said. The winners were awarded prize money of Rs 1 lakh. Sanjay Sharma, Head Motorsports, JK Tyre & Industries Ltd., said, “The 4th edition of the rally has been a great success. It is for the first time that this rally has travelled to international terrain and the government of Bhutan has been extremely supportive. I am very sure with this kind of support and love for motorsports we can keep promoting our initiatives beyond national borders.”