Siliguri, Feb 27 (IANS) Defending champion Ajgar Ali and co-driver Mustafa Erode will start as firm favourite in the JK Tyre Himalayan Drive, flagged off amid much fan fare, here on Wednesday.
India’s premier TSD event, which is in its 7th year, will see a strong pool of over 50 teams participating with the duo of Ajgar and Mustafa staying confident of completing a hat-trick of wins.
“We have come here well prepared and are confident of our chances of going the distance. Well, it might not be so easy as I am saying considering the field, but yes we will give our best and, hopefully, go back with the title,” Ajgar said ahead of the flag off.
However, it won’t be easy for the defending champions as they would face a strong challenge from Gagan Sethi and Raj Kumar Mundra. Gagan comes into the drive at the back of a great victory in the JK Tyre Hornbill Rally and would look to continue his good run.
JK Tyre Himalayan Drive 7, India’s only international TSD (time, speed, distance) rally was ceremonially flagged off in Siliguri by Inspector General of Police, Darjeeling Range, Manoj Verma.
The opening stage began after sunset. This is the first time in the history of the event that a night stage is being conducted.
After starting their journey, the drivers will travel all the way to Murti via forest roads, river embankments, the Teesta Barrage and tea gardens.
The colourful flag off ceremony also featured a traditional Gorkha band. A huge crowd, comprising motorsports enthusiasts, cheered the participants.