Amanpreet Ahluwalia who began his career as a go-karting champion, won the overall championship of the Maruti Suzuki’s Dakshin Dare Rally

The Maruti Suzuki’s Dakshin Dare Rally had a new champion in the four wheeler Extreme Cars category. Amanpreet Ahluwalia (navigator-Venu Ramesh) who led in leg two, three, four and five managed a cumulative timing of 3.45 hours to bag the overall champion title. Karthik Maruti and Shankar Anand won in the endurance section. In the bike category, R. Nataraj won for the second successive time.

The five day rally attracted 147 motorsport enthusiasts, with the 2,000 kilometre route traversing through South India. Relentless rain followed the rallyists through the route with 34 special stages.

In the most challenging and enduring ‘Extreme’ 4-wheeler category of rallying, all three winners were steering Maruti Suzuki vehicles. Suresh Rana/Parminder Thakur from Team Maruti bagged second spot steering their Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara and the third position was bagged by Imran Khan/Gagan Vijay in a Gypsy.

For Amanpreet, the maiden foray in a Southern Rally, was memorable. “This was the first time that I participated in a rally in the South. It was new learning graph to rally on stages that were totally different. I have never had tried stages like the tea and coffee estates. The experience was an eye opener for me,” says Amanpreet. The triumph came the hard way, asserts Amandeep. “The stages were really tricky and fun to drive. In the tea estate stages, it was difficult for Maruti Gypsy to move around. There was always the next day to make up time. And that’s what we did,” says Amanpreet.

The 36-year old Amanpreet began his career as a go-karting champion. “I was the National Go-Karting champion in 2002. The victory sparked a fire inside me to try my hands on rallying and I decided to participate in Sjoba Rally 2003. I took off with my Maruti Esteem and made it to the podium with second spot,” says Amanpreet. He subsequently moved onto other forms of competitive motorsports like Formula FISSME, to sprints, to autocross, to raids and rallying. He remains one of the only Indians to have taken part in all forms of the sport. Aman was also part of the first Indian racing team known as Team Valvoline. He is the sporting director and CEO of Auto Attitudes Motorsports and manages a tuning workshop, Auto Attitudes and prepares rally cars as well as works on restoration.

In October, he is up for a big challenge – The Himalayan Raid, considered to be one of the gruelling tests. “It is one of the toughest Rallies in the world. The preparations have to be impeccable with zero tolerance for error. The competition is tough as the rally is represented by who’s who of the rally circuit. I will be driving my Gypsy, the same which struck gold for me in Dakshin Dare,” says Amanpreet.