Champion rallyists to compete in the 4th Mughal Rally

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SRINAGAR: Sampada Rangnrekar, the 49-year-old Mumbai rallyist with seven mentions in the Limca Book of World Records. Suresh Rana of Manali, eight-time-winner of the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya and three-time-winner of the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm. Satish Gopalkrishnan, national champion in TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) rallying from Bangalore. Aman Ahluwalia of Delhi’s Team Terrain Tigers, an emerging champion rallyist. These, along with rallyists from all parts of the country are participating in India’s first hill-climb motorsport battle, The 4th J&K Bank Mughal Rally.

The two-day rally is being held over June 28 and 29, with about 120 rallyists driving cars, SUVs and motorcycles. It will be flagged off at 5 am on June 28 by J&K Tourism Minister Ghulam Ahmad Mir. The Mughal Rally has three categories. These are Rally Xtreme (4X4), Rally Xtreme (Motorcycles) and Rally Enduro. The first two categories are a heady speed rush, while Rally Enduro follows the Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) format.

Mir said that the 4th Mughal Rally, the first hill climb motorsport battle of India, is patterned on the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the 100-year-old iconic automobile and motorcycle hill climb of the USA. “The 4th Mughal Rally will feature a hill climb race to two of the highest passes in the country – Pir Ki Gali and Sinthan Pass. J&K has amazing potential for adventure sports. The Mughal Rally has become a boost to tourism in the region and is already one of the most famous events on the motorsports calendar of the country,” said Mir.

Amidst heavy rain in the valley, scrutiny of the vehicles of all competitors was held today at the Royal Springs Golf Course in Srinagar. The scrutiny is held as per stringent rallying and safety regulations of Federation Internationale De Automobile (FIA) and the Federation of Motorsport Clubs of India (FMSCI).

The Mughal Rally takes its name from The Mughal Road, the historic road used by Emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan to traverse from Delhi to Kashmir. On Day One, the rallyists will take on the hill climb to Pir Ki Gali, the highest point on the Mughal Road at an elevation of 11,500 feet (3,505 meters) approximately.

On Day 2, the second hill climb will come into play with the race to Sinthan Pass, at an altitude of 12,450 feet (3,748 meters), is on National Highway 1B, connecting Kishtwar and Anantnag. Even during the height of summer, the hill climb up to Sinthan Pass is lined with walls of snow. It is open from April to September.

The architect of The Mughal Rally is Himalayan Motorsport, the premier Shimla-based motorsport club which organizes the formidable Raid De Himalaya. President of Himalayan Motorsport Vijay Parmar said that heavy rain on June 27 had adversely impacted the roads on the rally route. This makes the route even more challenging for the rallyists, he said.

“We see this rally becoming one of the fastest hill climbs in the world. At around 30 kms each, the four hill climb stages on Pir ki Gali and Sinthan Pass will require great skill and concentration to master” said Parmar.

The Mughal Rally started in 2020, when the Mughal Road was a quagmire of deep mud and rocks. It is now a smooth, double laned highway which was formally opened by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on June 25. Himalayan Motorsport has seen average top speeds on this stretch go from a mere 55 kmph in 2010 to almost 170 kmph in 2012.

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