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Old 21st February 2010, 21:10   #121
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Default Feb 4 - Leg 1 - Siliguri to Phuntshoeling

Feb 4 - Leg 1 - Siliguri to Phuntshoeling

The D-Day has finally arrived. Having taken feedback from veterans, the next 3 days would be very tough and it would itself be a challenge to complete all the 3 legs, our strategy was be to complete the rally with no breakdowns. Being a first timer in these rallies, this strategy seemed reasonable to me and Joseph.

The flag off from Siliguri was from Himalayan Tennis Academy. Reporting time was 6:30am. The first car would be flagged off at 7:30am. Our's was car #24, with a scheduled flag off at 8:22am. We lined up the cars as per the sequence numbers. This was the first time we got to see all the cars and competitors at one place. John Sinha (@Johy) has come to see us off at the starting line. We chatted for a while, posed for a few pics. It was so nice of him to come down so early in the morning.

The range of cars was dominated with Esteems, followed by Hyundai Tucsons from Bhutan and then a Gypsy, a Bolero, a Santro, a Tavera and a couple of Chevy Sparks. The Tucsons, Santro and Spark belongs to competitors from Bhutan, while the Tavera was from Sikkim. There were total 34 competitors.

The top order belonged to the who's who of rallying from this part of India:

Car #1 driven by Arindam Ghosh, father of Amittrajit Ghosh,
Car #2 driven by Prashanta Paul
Car #3 driven by Sk Ajgar Ali
Car #4 driven by Soham Hazra
Car #5 driven by Sourabh Chaudhuri
Car #6 driven by Jogendra Jaiswal
Car #7 driven by Vikash Toshniwal
Car #8 driven by Sourav Chatterjee
Car #9 driven by Sudip Ghosh

All of them are regulars in the INRC circuit.

Having been humbled by the impressive lineup, I parked my car almost at the end of the starting order. We were handed out breakfast packets before the flag off. By the time it was 7:30, car #1 rolled in over the starting line.

The count down started, ...3...2...1...GO!!!!

The silver esteem driven by Arindam Ghosh zoomed ahead, took a 90deg left turn and disappeared. Gradually it was time for us to get going as well. The excitement was getting over me. I was trying to keep myself composed. The car in front of me was the all ladies team from Kolkata. With all due respects, my only concern was that they should not slow us down.

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2030006-large.jpg

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2030007-large.jpg

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2030008-large.jpg


We crawled over the starting line. The tulip was handed over. Joesph got busy with the tulip, making the computer entries. I was handed over the control book, in which I need to sign all the pages. The flipped over the tulip and saw the initial directions. After the start off, Joseph would need some time to finish his tulip entry and I did not want to disturb him.

Finally, 8:21:58....8:21:59....8:22:00....off we go.
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Old 25th February 2010, 21:08   #122
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Sorry to join the party slightly late but I didnot have my computer with me all this while. Since Saurabh has already started the rally I shall post some pictures of the scrutiny.
Yes, the regulations do allow tints on the glasses except the front one. Initially there was some confusion about it and we did ask a few of them to remove it but once the clarifications were made with FMSCI the air was cleared and there was no insistence on removing them any longer.
I was part of the scrutiny team and while Sircar sir took care of mechanicals I checked the electricals, paperwork and helmets.
@ronk: remind me to your Dad, TJ sir is a gem of a person. You will find my real name in the profile though. Will call him very soon for the latest too.
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Old 25th February 2010, 21:30   #123
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The rally was very well organised and never did we ever feel like outsiders though the entire group was very close knit kinda community. Now the pictures are from the rally line up and the point of early morning flag off which we were given the task of getting all set up the evening before.
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Old 25th February 2010, 22:33   #124
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After getting every thing ready for the next morning we hit the bed early as the next day we were supposed to be on road by 0500 hrs. After about an hour out of Silliguri we set up our Time Control. Ours was the 6th, the first TC being the flag off point.
It was in the middle of a forest along a curve heading onto a small wooden bridge. It was slightly a troubled spot and hence armed police escort was provided to us who stayed with us throughout. Now at a TC the following jobs are done:-
1. Put a rope across the track and the time of hitting the rope is the recorded time for that competitor. As we knew that the cars would be let off at 2 minutes intervals they should be hitting us at roughly the same interval but lo and behold we had cars coming at us in bunches with about 10 sec intervals. Someone was not navigating properly.
2. The time of the car hitting the rope is then recorded on a marshal chart and also on the TC sheet with the competitor. One leaf of the TC sheet is torn off and kept with the marshal at the TC.
3. All such TC sheet leafs along with the TC control record sheet are then handed over to the Safety Vehicle which is the last of the vehicle to come, signalling the wrap up of the TC post.
Here are a couple of pictures from the TC of the first day.
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Last edited by wanderernomad : 25th February 2010 at 22:39.
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Old 26th February 2010, 00:15   #125
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Thanks Wanderer for your posts. I was expecting your posts for quite some time.
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Old 26th February 2010, 00:41   #126
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The rally route for Leg 1 took us through tea gardens, villages, towns, canal banks, barrages and finally into Phuntshoeling.

Places covered were Mahananda WLS, Lataguri, Coochbehar, Chilapota Reserve Forest, Hasimara, Jaigaon, ending at Phuntshoeling, covering a total distance of around 270kms.

Average speeds given in the tulip were pretty high. Through the dirt tracks in the forests and tea gardens, we were often driving at 90-100kph, to maintain an average of 70kph. It was an experience not to forget. It was a true test of man and machine and all about high speed car control on dirt tracks and gravel.

At one point, my power steering failed and navigating the car through the winding roads was taking a lot of effort from me. Got this rectified at night, when the service crew took over the car. It was a small component that was creating all the problems.

The rally for the day, ended just beyond the entry gate at Phuntshoeling. We were received at the gate by the higher officials of Bhutan. That evening, there was a dinner invitation at the Indian High Commission at Phuntshoeling.

We started the day at position 24. Throughout the day, we have move up 4 positions and the arrival sequence at Phuntshoeling defined the starting order for the next day. We retired to bed early thinking about the next day's challenges. If the first leg's challenges were not enough, leg 2 promised to be the most challenging leg. It would be critical to save the car from breakdowns and at the same time, push the car to the limits and try to better the overall position.

End of Leg1
3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2040009-large.jpg

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The local Maruti Service Centre was offering free wash and checkup of all competitor cars. We took full advantage of it.
3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2040016-large.jpg

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2040017-large.jpg
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Old 26th February 2010, 14:53   #127
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Quote:
saurabh m..
The recordings of the 3rd Indo Bhutan Rally will be telecast on 28th Feb (Sunday) in DD1, at 6/6:30pm (not sure about the exact time)
I gotto set an alarm for this.
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Old 26th February 2010, 20:20   #128
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I am in touch with the DD team and will post the exact timings here. Right now it is at 1830 hrs in their program on motor sports.
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Old 27th February 2010, 00:35   #129
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@Wanderer : Will it be possible to get a copy (preferably uncut version) of their recordings in a DVD? Will keep it for my personal collection.
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Old 27th February 2010, 01:13   #130
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Default Feb 5 - Leg 2 - Phuntsholing - Gelephu

Feb 5 - Leg 2 - Phuntsholing - Gelephu

The flag off for Leg 2 was at 8am (IST). Bhutan Standard Time (BST) is 30 mins behind IST. Leg 2 will be as per IST. Thefirst car was to be flagged off at 8am. Today, our starting order was #19, as we have moved up 4 positions. We were distributed breakfast packets before the start. Our starting time was 8:38am.

At the starting line, the same procedures were followed. The tulip was handed over 1 min before start. While I started signing the TC book, Joseph got busy making computer entries.

Today, the route will be back to India, through the entry gate and then drive along the India/Bhutan border, primarily through Assam and through Royal Manas National Park. The route took us through village roads, deep forests, across river beds and highways also. There were total 4 river beds that we crossed. The first one was narrow but had ankle deep water at a couple of places. The other ones were quite wide. The 3rd river bed was the most dangerous. It was atleast 500ms wide and as we descended onto the river, we could see 4 cars stuck in the sand, boulders and pebbles.

The trick to cross these stretches is not to leave the throttle. We navigated through the bends, constantly searching was hard surface, but at the same time, maintaining the speed. If you are slow, you are stuck. Finally we managed to come up on the other side of the bank. It was a battle half won. There was one more river crossing but that did not pose much of a challenge.

All through, the average speeds were set above 60kph. The time lost in crossing the rivers need to be made up through the forests on the other side. We stopped at a passage control for 15 mins, to have some food and water, get fresh and do a quick round of checks on the cars. The service team was already present.

The next stretch took us along a highway, which appeared to be part of the E-W corridor. The surface was fantastic. From the point we left the highway, suddenly the military presence increased with armed personnel stationed every 500ms. This is the heart of the Bodoland movement and hence the high security. It also marked the no-mans land between India and Bhutan. The
road condition was pathetic. Its full of potholes which are quite deep to break the car, specially when you are trying to achieve the target speed. This continued for approx 20kms.

We finally entered Bhutan through Gelephu. There is a huge ground in the centre of Gelephu town, which was designated as the parc ferme. By the time we reached the finish line for Leg 2, it was around 3pm. All cars lined up there. The service team will have to do their work there itself.

Light refreshments were served and we were allocated hotels.

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2040019-large.jpg

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2040020-large.jpg

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Attached Thumbnails
3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2050051-large.jpg  

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2050053-large.jpg  

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Old 27th February 2010, 11:17   #131
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Saurabh da, nice pictures you don't sleep at night kya?

what about videos?
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Old 27th February 2010, 23:50   #132
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Sure Saurabh, Ill see what can be done. Even I want a copy so lets see.
@planet : I have the videos but will take time to post. Probably at the end of this narration I will post them up.
Now I need to keep pace with saurabh on day to day basis to give you the ringside view of the things. I hope I am able to.
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Old 28th February 2010, 10:53   #133
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planet_rocker View Post
Saurabh da, nice pictures you don't sleep at night kya?

what about videos?
NOS has some video as well, though taken during free runs and onward-return journeys.


Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderernomad View Post
Sure Saurabh, Ill see what can be done. Even I want a copy so lets see.
Thanks boss. Lets hope that a copy can me made available for us.

JUST IN : Telecast of Indo-Bhutan rally deferred till 7th March, DD1, 6:30pm.
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Old 28th February 2010, 11:08   #134
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Feb 5 - Gelephu

We were allocated hotels by 4pm. I took a bath and went out for a walk to see around Gelephu. The car did not suffer any damages today, so I was not worried. Once the service team arrives, the car will undergo a regular checkup in the evening.

Gelephu is a very small town in the Sarpang district. The area is along the Assam border, rubbing shoulders with Manas National Park and adjoining tea gardens. Surrounded by hills, the town itself is very clean. This is a trademark of Bhutan and is definitely a thing to learn. The roads are wide, excellent surface, no garbage and litter lying anywhere. No posters on walls, no spitting here and there. Smoking is banned in Bhutan, so you wont see cigarette butts lying around.

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2050047-large.jpg

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2050048-large.jpg

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2050046-large.jpg

The market is small, comprising of not more than 50 shops. The hotels are also very basic. The administration have been very thoughtful about keeping the city walls clean. There are wooded boards erected at places where you can paste posters for election campaigning.

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2050026-large.jpg

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3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2050032-large.jpg

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2050033-large.jpg

After taking a walk around the town, I discovered a small monastary just beside the parc ferme area. Went inside and took a few pics.

Ring-side view
3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2050035-large.jpg

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2050039-large.jpg

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2050045-large.jpg

In the evening, all the local dignitaries were invited, canopies were setup and a bonfire was lit. Folk dances were arranged from the adjoining villages who presented us with Assamese and Bhutanese songs and dances. Food and beverages were served for evening snacks and dinner.

3rd Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2010-p2050054-large.jpg

Local dignitaries, in full official attire
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The evening was spent chatting with the different participants, officials and locals.

Tomorrow morning we will start for the third and final leg of the rally. As far as we could gather information, the third leg would be entirely tarmac, driving uphill all along till Thimpu, via Dochu-la, the highest pass in Bhutan, at 3050m. Reports were there that there was snow on the road. The temperature for Thimpu was reported at -3 degC.

Today we have moved up further by another 5 positions. It would be a relatively early start for us the next day, we retired to bed, hoping to better our positions even further, on the final assault.
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Old 28th February 2010, 18:51   #135
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Yes it has been deffered till 7th March due to the Vayu Shakti programme. Saurabh, a copy will be arranged but they are doubtfull if the uncut version can be arranged, he has promised though that he will try.
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