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Old 23rd July 2012, 23:22   #1
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Default A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012

Team-BHP was invited by Mahindra Adventure to participate in India's biggest TSD rally - Mahindra Monsoon Challenge.

Related Thread on the event (DerAlte, BBlost & Team-BHP *WIN* the Media Category, Mahindra Monsoon Challenge 2012).

DerAlte(Aniruddha Banerjee) and me(Imran Jeddy) were going to represent Team-bhp at this event.

I consider myself very lucky.
Not only was I going to participate but I was getting to drive with an encyclopedia of automobile knowledge and design systems.

We are asked to report at the Sheraton Bangalore on Thursday the 19th of July, 2012.
From Bangalore we would drive to Mangalore on Friday.
From Mangalore drive to Shimoga on Saturday.
From Shimoga drive to Goa on Sunday.

The route would take us on good roads, bad roads and even some stretches without any roads.
There would be a lot of sun, and a lot of rain.
A mix of flat roads and ghats.

It is a very exciting rally and is in fact the biggest TSD Rally in India.


Disclaimer:
Mahindra paid for our flight tickets and hotel.
They did not charge us any registration fees.
They also provided us with a Thar and paid for its fuel.

Last edited by bblost : 24th July 2012 at 12:47.
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Old 23rd July 2012, 23:22   #2
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Default Tsd

This challenge is based on the TSD format.
Since neither of us had any experience with this format. We had to refer the navigator (What is the role of a Navigator?)thread.

We quickly realized that this rally is more about endurance and concentration.

At the start of every day, a team is given a Speed and Tulip Chart.
It looks like this:
A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012-sample-tulip.jpg

The Tulip Chart tells you, where to go.
The Speed Chart tells you what speed to maintain.
They are both based on distance.
A driver resets his tripmeter to 0 at the start point.

As the tripmeter progresses, you take action based on the Tulip and Speed charts.
In the Tulip Chart uploaded above, the odometer is to set to 0 when the middle part of the front tire is above the last hump at a particular exit.
After driving for exactly 1.39 kms, there will be a right turn. The driver must ignore it and continue straight i.e follow the arrow.

As per the Speed Chart, the first 10.40 kms must be covered at exactly 44 kmph.
During a Freezone, the driver can drive at any speed. Between 10.40 kms and 13.80 kms there is no specified speed.
But you must reach 13.80 kms in exactly 10 minutes. A freezone usually means there could be some unpredictable traffic situation. A driver needs to exercise his judgement to read the traffic and road conditions.

There will be Time Checks at random locations. These are equipped with a synced watch. They record the arrival time on a sheet of paper and get it attested by the navigator. A similar entry is made on a card that has been given to the team.

A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012-tc.jpg

If a driver had followed the prescribed speeds then he would have arrived at the Time Check at an exact time. If the time taken is different, then the team is penalized. The penalty for arriving early is double the penalty for arriving late.

Also if a driver tries to avoid a early entry to a Time Check by stopping or crawling, the Marshal could use his discretion and add an additional penalty.

The timer for a team is reset at the end of every Time Check. The next Time Check will take the start time from the Exit Time of the previous one.
If a team arrives at a Time Check about 10 minutes late. The team get penalized for these 10 minutes only here. The next Time Check is only concerned with the time taken to reach it from the previous Time Check.

At the end of everyday all the penalty points are calculated. The team with the least penalty points is the winner.

A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012-legends.jpg
The Legends used in a Tulip Chart.

A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012-tulip-corrections.jpg
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In an ideal world, the odometer reading will correctly match the reading given in Tulip Chart.
But all odometers have an error. They may either give a slightly higher or lesser value than the distances in the Tulip.

A distance of 1 km on the Tulip would correspond to 1.05 or 1.3 or even .8 on the odometer.
So after driving a short distance, the navigator must compare the distance value at a landmark on the Tulip with the actual reading in the odo.

In our case, we found that for every km our odo was showing approximately 15% higher.
We kept fine tuning the difference ratio till we found it was about 11.25% higher in the odo meter.

Quickly multiplied all the distances in the Tulip chart with this 1.125.
This impacts all the values in both the Tulip and Speed Charts.
If the Speed Chart asks us to drive at 10 kmph, we must drive at 11.25 kmph as per our speedo.
Likewise if the Speed Chart asks us to drive at 30 kmph, our speedo must indicate 30*1.125 = 33.75.
But we are driving a Thar. It has an analog display. It was impossible to maintain an exact 33.75. We had to drive relying on our gut feel.



A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012-tulip-speed.jpg
Since both the distance and the speed need to be monitored. The tulip sheets ended up looking like this.

Profession rallyists usually have sophisticated trip meters and scientific calculators with special programs.
The trip meters provide very accurate distances and once setup they automatically correct the distance.
So there is no need for any manual calculations.

Also remember the speed charts. They need you to drive at an exact speed for a fixed distance. But its not always possible to do that.
For example, If you need to drive at 30 kmph for 5 kms. After one kilometer traffic or road conditions force you to slow down to 20 kmph.
As soon as the conditions change and become conducive to 30 kmph, the navigator will enter the current odo reading and the time.
The calculator will advice them to maintain 50 kmph for the next 100 meters and then settle down at 30. This sudden speed up will correct the time lost due to the earlier slow down.

In our case, we were using stone age tools. But it was a lot of fun.
We had a GPS Navigator. But these are not very accurate and most rallyists avoid them for these readings.
Also without a charger point in our Thar, we could not use it.
There was some ambiguity at the start of the rally. Since we were not sure about the GPS usage we did not use it until after our last Time Check.

Last edited by bblost : 27th July 2012 at 14:49.
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Old 23rd July 2012, 23:22   #3
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Default Thursday: 19-July-2012

I arrived in Bangalore in the morning. Took a bus that dropped me right in front of Hotel Sheraton.
Priyanka from Mahindra took charge and introduced me to the Adventure team. Its headed by Mr Bijoy Kumar.
There was a lot of paper work that needed to be completed.

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The parking lot at Orion mall.


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My Thar.
I am finally allotted this beautiful beast and I quickly take her for a quick test run inside the parking lot.
I have very little experience driving a diesel. The Thar is a bare bones SUV. The designers who worked on the interiors suffered from either a seriously limited budget or just did not care.
The seat is quite comfortable. The off-set steering is not too bad. In fact the steering is huge and very comfortable.
There is a bit of body roll as it lurches forward when I brake hard.
There are of course no power windows. The levers to bring them down, bring your fingers very close to the badly installed dashboard.
You cannot use the wiper stalk without doing some finger shuffling.
There are a few bits and pieces missing inside the cabin.
There is a small hole from which you can see the floor below.
But the engine sounds very sweet. If you try hard you can almost sense her telling you to not judge her so fast. A few
100 kms on the open highway and I was slowly but steadily falling in love with her.
The interiors designers are not stupid. They are actually very smart. They know no one is buying the Thar for a chauffeured drive. The buyer will keep cursing the designers. But once he hits an open road. He will fall in love with the Thar so much, that he will consider these minor irritants.



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The Jeeps roll out for the Rally Kick-Off in the Orion Mall.
There were fire crackers. Loud music and a very festive atmosphere.

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After the ceremonies, Aniruddha and I did a quick fuel stop at a nearby fuel station.
The short ride outside revealed a short turning radius. Also gave a first hand feel of driving her on tarmac.


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Everyone was asked to assemble at the food court in Orion mall.
Everyone observed a moments of silence for Jatinder Shukla (3rd J&K Bank Mughal Rally. EDIT : Passiontodrive suffers fatal accident) and Ashish Mahajan. May they rest in peace.

We were informed of the rules and asked to follow safe driving at all times.

The Rally would start early on Friday morning.
The media teams were informed that they could either compete the entire stretch or if they wished they can opt for the shorter Media Category.
While everyone else would have to pass approximately 20 Time Checks, we would be free after the first 5.
This would allow us to pace ourselves better. All the Media participants heaved a big sigh of relief.


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We went back to the Parking Lot and spent sometime with the Thar.

Last edited by bblost : 25th July 2012 at 14:16.
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Old 23rd July 2012, 23:22   #4
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Default Friday: 20-July-2012

A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012-p1010040.jpg
Woke up early and had a heavy breakfast. Getting prepared for a long drive is always a lot of fun.

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The jeeps were all assembled in the parking lot. The Tulip and Speed Charts were handed out.
We slowly rolled out of the parking lot.
Aniruddha was driving and I was trying to navigate.

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The skies were slightly overcast and the weather was pleasant. The lack of an AC in the Thar did not seem like a problem.

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A few kms into the drive at a Time Check, they asked us to discard the Speed-Tulip Charts. A new book was issued.
We continued driving while keeping the Tulip Charts in a constant state of update. We first assumed that the odo error was about 15%. Then fine tuned it to 13% and finally settled it at 11.25%.

11.25% was also not 100% accurate. We would pick up a few extra meters every now and then. It was as if the number of kms being reported at high speed was more than the number at low speeds. Plus if you miss a turning, the extra kms added would have to be adjusted.
It was a mind numbing exercise in basic arithmetic. I am sure my 2nd standard teacher would have been so proud of me. However she may have not approved of the calculator.

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I finally got the driver seat after lunch. For a navigator the Thar is cruel metal cage. There is no place to keep anything. I had to keep my pen, paper and calculator in my cargo pant pockets. Anything kept on the dash would fall down. The flimsy glove box would open all the way thru.
I started driving this relic of the iron age.
The Thar is of course a diesel. But the way it perform, one would consider it almost as refined as a petrol. There is no turbo lag. The engine likes being revved.
While the handling is very poor at slow speeds. Crank it to over 60 kmph on bad roads and she settles in perfectly. The engine at 80kmph is a delight. There is hardly any vibration. There is a awesome amount of power on Tap. Just press down the accelerator and she pulls like a train engine.

And then it happened.
A sharp right turn. I am driving a little too fast for the turn but take it all the same. On a dry road nothing would have happened. But this road had water and sand. The fish tailing started. The rear was moving left and right. I correct the steering with all my force. It was at that precise moment. When my heart beating fast and my stomach all knotted up that I fell in love with the Thar. She responded almost immediately and corrected her course.
It was maybe the Thar's way of telling. Stop cribbing and drive.

Last edited by bblost : 25th July 2012 at 13:57.
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Old 23rd July 2012, 23:23   #5
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Default Saturday

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We spent the night in Mangalore. In the morning after a quick breakfast, all the vehicles left the hotel to rendezvous at some point close to the end of the first Free Zone.

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Vehicles waiting in a line. The skies promised us rain and we were not disappointed.

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The route for this rally is a mix of road conditions.
The Agumbe Ghats draped in clouds. Even as we were taking the picture the skies opened up. Visibility dropped to just a few feet. We followed a bus as he kept clearing the road for up. The pilot helped us maintain a safe route up the ghat section. Very soon we were inside the clouds. It was a total whiteout. Luckily the addition fog lights on the Thar came in handy. We were able to overtake the bus and proceed without any scary moments.

A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012-p1010086.jpg
A long day of driving and we finally reached a nice hotel in Shimoga.

Last edited by bblost : 25th July 2012 at 12:32.
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Old 23rd July 2012, 23:23   #6
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Default Sunday

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The weather was just perfect. We left Shimoga and started the final drive towards Goa. Our team was sitting on a very comfortable 9 minute lead in the category. Analyzing our results we found that we were reaching early and hence suffering the double penalty. We decided to slow down and take it easy. If we kept our wits and did not panic, the 9 minute lead would sail us thru into victory.

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The route involved a couple of unguarded railway crossing. The speed chart gave us 8 minute long freezones to cross less than half a kilometer. This meant we had to cross the railway crossing and wait for almost 7 minutes.

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The magnificent Jog Falls
The drive was split into two parts. Part 1 terminated at Jog Falls. This allowed all the participants to take a few minutes to simply chill out.

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The drive is awesome. But you also meet some super awesome people.

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The winners. Karthick Maruti and his navigator Sankar Anand.

Last edited by bblost : 25th July 2012 at 14:19.
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Old 23rd July 2012, 23:23   #7
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Default Celebrations.

The Party.
Music, Prizes and good food.

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Last edited by bblost : 26th July 2012 at 14:47.
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Old 25th July 2012, 14:51   #8
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Default

DerAlte and I won the first place in the Media Category.

We were very lucky and I strongly feel that it not just the driving but our strong foundation in basic arithmetic that helped us along.

The TSD Rally format is very safe. Most times the drivers are ambling along at just around 30 kmph. Even on fast highways the maximum speed permitted would be just around 50kmph.

Since you never know where a Time Check Team would be present, there is absolutely no scope for relaxing.

While the professional teams may have the sophisticated meters, the pressure on them is so high that mere mortals would go mad.

The winning teams for instance had a total penalty of just about 2 mins over a driving time of over 30 hours and around 60 time checks.

Driver: Karthick Maruti
Navigator: S.Sankar Anand
Time: 1min 52sec

Driver: Sanjay Takle
Navigator: Mohd Mushtafa
Time: 2min 0sec

Driver: Amitrajit Gosh
Navigator: Neerav Mehta
Time: 2min 1sec
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Old 25th July 2012, 15:04   #9
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Default The Thar

The Thar.

This was the first time I sat inside a Thar and drove it.
In love its engine and the gear box. The handling is very decent. The power delivery is very linear and it can accelerate very fast.
The turbo whistle is very addictive.

The braking is decent but one must always remember its limitations in this kind of body setup. The drive quality on bad roads at low speeds is jarring. But if you are confident of crossing 60 kmph, she becomes remarkably poised and comfortable.

The Thar has a broad flat windscreen. Even during heavy downpours, the windows did not need to be rolled up. At most a few droplets would find their way in. They actually helped keeping us cool and prevented any major condensation build up on the screen.

The Thar rattles like crazy. The quality of interiors is sad. Even the cheapest hatchback in the market has better quality of plastics. Every thing feels dangerous. If you are not careful the dashboard could nick your fingers. The rear seats are horrible. They take up space and look cheap.

The soft top did not leak.
However there was a significant amount of water that entered in from under the door. Also the floor had a bunch of holes. Mostly missing bolts.

The softtop hindered rear visibility and the rear view mirrors are not very good either.

My Thar has a bull bar installed. I am perpetually scared of these.

Will I buy a Thar?
NO. Because I cannot afford two vehicles at home and have a young child. There is no provision for installing a child seat and I cannot compromise on this.

Would I recommend the Thar?
As an open top jeep that run on Diesel, it has no competition.

I just wish M&M made the Thar more family friendly and that would enable single car owners like me to convince the family.

Last edited by bblost : 25th July 2012 at 16:00.
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Old 25th July 2012, 16:11   #10
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Default Re: A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012

Thread moved from Assembly Line.

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Old 25th July 2012, 16:49   #11
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Default Re: A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012

Congrats (again) Imran & Aniruddh! I have experienced the TSD format (in the Blind Man Rally that vikram18 won (Charitable Drive : 2012 Blind Man Car Rally (Pune). *EDIT 8th April)) and can vouch that it is confusing as heck

The winning team in general category must be rocket scientists, 2 minutes over 30 hours of driving is a true achievement!

The inputs on the Thar are also well captured. While it is certainly nowhere close to family-fendly, it's probably the best option for a cheap rugged 4X4 that anyone can aspire to.
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Old 25th July 2012, 16:52   #12
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Default Re: A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012

Wonderful report Imran!

Congrats to both of you.

Thanked your posts after browsing through the photos; will take a long break and read the posts slowly.

Dear Aniruddha: way to go! Looking forward to your side of the story as well.
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Old 25th July 2012, 17:16   #13
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Default Re: A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
DerAlte and I won the first place in the Media Category.
Congrats to both of you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
While the professional teams may have the sophisticated meters, the pressure on them is so high that mere mortals would go mad.
True. The margin of error is very miniscule in tarmac TSDs. The events that run on dirt/broken roads/off road are different though, there one can hope to recover from mistakes if the team has a good driver.

Quote:
Originally Posted by noopster View Post
The winning team in general category must be rocket scientists, 2 minutes over 30 hours of driving is a true achievement!
TSD is not about math or experience or anything else. It is only about equipment.

Most 'pros' (and aspiring ones) use:
1) TSDMeter (TSDMeter | TSD rally made easy!)
2) Garmin 76CSX (https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=351&ra=true)
3) Terratrip 202v3 (http://www.terratrip.com)

Any team which has these devices and has done a bit of practice (2-3 actual events + weekend practice with old tulips may be 5-6 times) can easily challenge any pro!

Last edited by oldmonk : 25th July 2012 at 17:19.
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Old 25th July 2012, 20:38   #14
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Default Re: A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012

Congratulations to you & DA

Looks like you guys had fun, did you or any other teams faced any breakdowns?

I think this is the perfect placing for this Team-Bhp Sticker as if it was made for an event like this

A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012-p1010062.jpg
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Old 25th July 2012, 22:30   #15
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Default Re: A Report on the Mahindra Adventure: Monsoon Challenge 2012

Congratulations Bblost & DerAlte!

But are you guys sure that holes in the floor of Thar is a bug, and not a feature? You know - to let water out of the cabin when doing some heavy off-roading in slush or crossing streams?
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