Racing enthusiasts in the city just kicked into high gear. For the first time in its 15-year history The Mahindra Great Escape, arguably India’s largest and one of the most adventurous non-competitive off-road rallies, comes to Thiruvananthapuram! The event is all set to be flagged off today at 10.30 a.m. (November 5) at Ponmudi.
“The Mahindra Great Escape is not a competmitive race and there are no winners – just racing enthusiasts in for the thrill of it. The drivers, both amateur and professionals, will tear around an exciting off-road 30-km terrain, across streams and ravines, up and down valleys, over boulders and rocks, testing their driving skills to the limit, and having loads of fun in the process,” says Shajan Daniel, the event coordinator and a racing enthusiast himself.
The format of the race is quite simple. All you need to do is get hold of a Mahindra 4×4 vehicle such as a Bolero, Thar, Scorpio, and so on, and drive to your heart’s content across a set terrain.
Up to 50 teams can participate in the event and there is a registration fee of Rs. 3,000 per team for a maximum of four members. Mahindra has also supplied a number of its Thar jeeps to test its limits.
Indian rally legend Musa Sherif, for long co-driver of National Rally Championship winner Gaurav Gill of Team MRF, is on hand at the event as part of the organising team. The ace driver from Kasaragod, who been involved in rally driving for the past 19 years, says that the challenges are different for each person. “The key lies in judiciously manoeuvring the vehicle through varied terrain without losing control of or damaging the vehicle’s suspension. Each driver responds differently to different terrain. For example, if there is a marginally big rock blocking the path, some drivers would be intimidated into going around it rather than over it. Our expert teams map out challenging routes through mud, slush, sand, and rugged terrain. Sections requiring skilful driving are monitored by experts on hand,” says Sherif.
The rally, which was started in 1996 by a bunch of Mahindra SUV owners who got together for an off-roading adventure, comes to Thiruvananthapuram after a successful run in Kuttikanam (Kottayam) in October. Reuben Cherian Issac, Pradeep, and Joseph Thomas will be leading the three teams from the city.
And have they chosen Thiruvananthapuram? “There are a lot of racing enthusiasts in Kerala – going by the response in Kottayam, to say the least. And never before has an off-road rally of this magnitude been held here. When we did a recee of the area we found that Thiruvananthapuram has a fantastic terrain with lots of potential for adventure tourism, especially in the Ponmudi Hills area. For instance, 50 teams themselves with four members each, would easily bring 200 people and that is apart from racing enthusiasts who just come to watch. Each race really is a boost to tourism in any area. We are hoping to make The Mahindra Great Escape an annual event in Thiruvananthapuram,” say both Sherif and Daniel.
Article Sourced from The Hindu