Arunachal Festival of Speed: Amanpreet in lead

Amanpreet Ahluwalia proved he's a master of short turns and deft handling as he finished first in the autocross, or the Super Special Stages.

Cars zoomed in the zig-zagging course delighting the locals, who had gathered in moderate numbers.   -  Special Arrangement

With the breathtakingly beautiful Dirang valley for inspiration, National autocross champion Amanpreet Ahluwalia jump into the lead on the first day in the fourth edition of the JK Tyre Arunachal Festival of Speed here on Saturday.

He proved he's a master of short turns and deft handling as he finished first in the autocross, or the Super Special Stages as it's called here.

However, the championship suffered a huge setback after quite a few big names pulled out. Seven-time Desert Storm winner Sunny Sidhu pulled out citing engine issues. Joining him were ten-time Raid de Himalaya champion Suresh Rana and newly-crowned India Baja champion, Gaurav Chiripal. Both withdrew citing different reasons.

Organisers said Gaurav was stuck in Dubai due to personal issues while Rana's car's front axle was damaged.  Another prominent rallyist Raj Singh Rathore, too, withdrew.

The hero of the day was Amanpreet. Driving a Maruti Gypsy, Amanpreet tackled the slippery grass track at the L’Opon Stadium to delight the locals, who had gathered in moderate numbers to watch the action-packed event.  He needed just 2minutes and 09 seconds to complete the zig-zagging course.

“It was fun racing on this tricky course,” Amanpreet, a veteran rallyist from Delhi, said. “We are happy that we have taken the early lead. There is still a long way to go and we hope to drive on this momentum through the weekend,” he added.

The top seeded racer among those in classified cars here, K. M. Bopaiah from Coorg, had to settle for the second place in his 1600cc Polo. Delhi’s Sandeep Sharma finished third. In the autocross and sprint cars for local talent, Babit Lyngdoh shot into the lead, winning both his rounds.

The provisional results

1. Amanpreet Ahluwalia  & navigator Ajay Kumar(02:09), 2. K.M. Bopaiah & Gagan Karumbaiah (02:12), 3. Sandeep Sharma & Prathap Thakur (02:13), 4. Ewellson Cyngdoh & Rijop M Sangma (02:14).