JK Tyre Hornbill Rally: Gagan back to defend crown

Gagan Sethi will be in a Maruti Suzuki Gypsy with Sabatullah Khan (Kolkata) to read the road book.

"I only hope that my vehicle does not let me down,” said Gagan Sethi on the eve of the JK Tyre Hornbill Rally.   -  special arrangement

Three years ago, Gagan Sethi tackled the broken tarmac terrain with ease to clinch the crown in the JK Tyre Hornbill Rally, organised and promoted by the Nagaland Adventure and Motorsports Association (NAMSA), here.

The Delhi Star was in an Alto then and had Dhiraj Arora as his co-driver. But this time around, it’s going to be a different story altogether as he will be in a Maruti Suzuki Gypsy with Sabatullah Khan (Kolkata) to read the road book.

Will it be easy all the way? The TSD champion, does not think so. “We have a few technical issues with the car. Obviously, I just want to go out there and win again but it might be difficult. I only hope that my vehicle does not let me down,” said Gagan.

There are a few others who dream of giving Gagan a run for his money but it will be difficult journey for them as well considering the terrain. The drivers will traverse about 55kms in and around Kohima and they all know that speed does not count in this event.

The navigators role is quite important as is the drivers’ job of keeping up the average speed.

“He will have to just listen to me and the rest will happen,” said Mercy Mezhatsu, who will be navigating for Atoka Awomi.

Both of them are first timers to the TSD event.

“We have won a couple of autocross events in the North East and we decided to try our luck here as well,” said Atoka.

Twenty-nine drivers have registered for the event of which nine will fight it out in the open class (professionals) and the rest in the North East category.

The rally will start from the Indira Gandhi Stadium and culminate at the Kisama Heritage Village.