Seasoned rallyist Ashima Duggal held her nerve to streak into the lead of the all-women’s rally, Divas on Wheels, at the end of the first leg here on Friday evening.
The 35-year-old, along with navigator Amrita Shergill covered the over 300 kilometres stretch from Bengaluru to Chikkamagaluru in great style, collecting only 6.50 penalty points.
Shobha Ravi (with Nilofer Ibrahim) and Prafulla K S (Sandhya Chandrashekar) were in the second and third positions with 9.30 and 9.36 penalty points.
Over 30 teams made up of a driver and a co-driver left from Bengaluru early in the morning to win the coveted Divas on Wheels crown and handsome cash prizes.
Defending champion Geetha Wadhwa was placed eighth after day one as the rally moves from Chikkamagaluru to Kodagu for the last and final day on Saturday.
They had to tackle close to 130 kilometres in competitive stages, manned by 20 time controls. Ten of them, incidentally, were self TCs, a first in Indian rallying.
The ladies, who hailed from Bengaluru, Hyderabad (8 teams), Pune and Delhi, traversed through picturesque landscapes, dirt roads, quaint villages and tricky terrains in their quest for supremacy in this TSD rally.
“The introduction of self TCs made it really challenging. We had to be on the lookout for these unmanned posts all through the route and fill in our timings on our own,” said Ashima Duggal, the runners-up in the Times Women’s Drive.
Her navigator Amrita agreed that the entire rally was exciting as well as demanding. “We passed through some amazing sights but we could barely take them in as my entire focus had to be on the tulip card,” she said.
“Self TCs is an interesting concept,” Jai Das Menon, the organiser of the rally, said. “We had placed them in strategic positions, not giving the participants any breathing time or any scope to manipulate their timings,” he said.
The ceremonial start of the rally, an FMSCI approved event, took place at Bengaluru on Thursday, with as many as 100 ladies lining up for glory.
The Time, Speed, Distance (TSD) Rally will cover a total distance of around 750 km.
Participants showcase their skills and acumen in the TSD format, which is a slow speed rally and relies a lot on navigation. Calculations are made purely in terms of time and the routes are not disclosed to the drivers. The team with the least number of penalties is declared the winner.