Darjeeling Rally de Orange starts, to terminate at Sittong

Meena pradhan at Darjeeling Rally de Orange
Twenty-two teams took off on their two-day long journey covering 300km along the hilly terrain of the Darjeeling hills and the plains of the Dooars as part of Rally de Orange amidst much fanfare and cheer today.

The car rally started from the Gorkha Rangamancha Bhavan here this morning and is the first of its kind to be organised by the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.

The event is being held in association with Wind Oz, an travel company based in Siliguri, The Telegraph and Ramkrishna Race Performance Management which is providing the technical support.

“The car rally is an effort of the GTA to make adventure tourism popular in the hills. The event is named Rally de Orange because this is the orange season and we all know that orange is a dwindling crop in the hills. We hope that this will give impetus to orange farming in the hills,” said Sonam Bhutia, the executive director of GTA’s tourism department.

The event started with a band display by students of Municipal Boys’ High School, Darjeeling, and was followed by the national anthem.

Trilok Chandra Dewan, the Darjeeling MLA, was the chief guest of the event. He flagged off the cars at 8.30am, and the first vehicle to roll out was a Maruti Suzuki Vitara driven by Sheikh Azgar Ali, a businessman from Haldia. His 32-year-old friend Md. Mustafa, from Erode in Tamil Nadu, was the navigator.

The cars were flagged off at a interval of two minutes and the participating teams will follow the time-speed-distance format where they are supposed to cover a particular distance within a specified time at a given speed.

In the first leg today, they will cover Ghoom, Sukhiapokhari, Mirik, Latpanchar before the rally terminates at Murti, Dooars. The participants were engaged in a flurry of activities, calling up friends and family and checking to see if they had everything they required before the start.

“We have been receiving calls from friends and well-wishers. There is an excitement for sure but not anxiousness,” said Deep Banerjee from Calcutta who will be navigating for friend Basudeb Bhattacharjee in a Mitsubishi Pajero.

While 42-year-old Shakila Gurung from Mirik is the only female driver in the rally, 46-year-old Meena Pradhan is the only female navigator who will be assisting her nephew Ishwar. The aunt-nephew duo are driving a Mahindra XUV 500.

The event has been approved by the Federation of Motor Sports Club of India and is under the aegis of Federation International de I’ Automobiles, Paris, France. Of the 22 participating teams, 15 are from the hills and seven from different parts of the country.

With the good response to the rally, the GTA is planning to make this an annual event. “We got a good response for the first car rally organised by the GTA. We definitely plan to make this an annual event. Leg II will start from Murti tomorrow and terminate at Sittong,” said Sonam Bhutia.

The winning team will receive a cash prize of Rs 50,000 and those in the second third and fourth positions will receive Rs 25,000, Rs 15,000 and Rs 10,000 respectively.

Source: The Telegraph

Darjeeling Rally de Orange starts, to terminate at Sittong, two-day long journey covering 300km along the hilly terrain of the Darjeeling hills and the plains of the Dooars as part of Rally de Orange

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