Ali, Epton regain lead in Dakshin Dare rally

Saturday, June 12, 2010

MUNNAR - The Aussie pair of Niaz Ali and co-driver Kim Epton regained the lead at the end of the fourth leg of the Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare 2010 Rally.

Competing in the ‘Ultimate’ category, Ali and Epton, driving a Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara, were fastest for the third time in this rally Friday night. They now have an overall timing of 4 hours, 23.37 minutes.

Previous winners of Raid-de-Himalaya and Desert Storm, Suresh Rana and Ashwin Naik, in a Maruti Suzuki Gypsy, were trailing the leaders by about five minutes with a timing of 4:28.59, followed by Shafiq Ur Rehman and George, also in a Gypsy (4:41.13).

In the Leg 4 Friday, which stretched over 380 km, Ali and Epton had the fastest lap followed by Prithvi Dominic and Jeevrathnam, and Rana and Naik. However, Dominic could not make it to the top three.

The vehicles set off from Coimbatore at 7 in the morning towards the picturesque hill station Munnar.

After the humid and dusty Coimbatore Windmill stages, the rallyists entered the Annamalai mountains amidst intermittent drizzle and windstorm. This leg comprised of five stages, all dirt sections totaling 104 km.

The first stage was of 27 km which had fast winding roads around the windmills that made the drivers go for fastest timings in view of the good run-off areas.

The smaller 11 km second stage was the same as the one used in the National Rally Championship. The terrain suited the Vitara and the Gypsy vehicles.

In the motorbikes segment, M.S. Ravindra continued to expand his overall lead with a total timing of 4:28.48 while Nataraj retained in the second place with a timing of 4:31.31 ahead of Uday Kumar (4:46.15).

On the final day of the rally, the participants will be leave early for Ernakulam, covering 290 km. After negotiating six stages through tea estates of Munnar, the rallyists will be flagged-in late afternoon.

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