Bangalore-based R. Nataraj, riding a TVS Wego for TVS Racing Team quelled tough conditions and a strong field to win Sportscraft’s 25th Gulf Monsoon Scooter Rally at the Navi Mumbai backwoods here on Sunday.
There were 36 riders at the start and Nataraj, familiar with motorcycle dirt racing, got the better of former champion Nashik’s Shamim Khan, astride a Mahindra Rodeo, by just .04 seconds with a penalty count of 00.27.30 seconds. Khan, who won the event in 2003 and 2004, timed 00.27.34 seconds and last year’s winner, Bhopal’s Muzaffar Ali, also riding a Mahindra Rodeo, finished third timing 00.27.47 seconds.
Rain stayed away on race day, but heavy overnight showers had rendered the course difficult and negotiating the boulder-laden, water-logged areas turned out to be a nightmare for the riders and many of them took a tumble or two. The experienced riders like Nataraj, Shamim Khan and former champions Manjeet Singh Bassan, Rustom and Zubin Patel, comfortably overcame the 35 km competitive sector challenge.
Others to impress were Nashik’s Amit Belgaokar and Shashank Shewale, who were placed fourth and fifth respectively; a good 40 seconds ahead of the four-time champion Manjeet Singh Bassan. Riding his treasure LML Vespa, Bassan, won the Class S2 -111cc upto 160cc 2-stroke Group C event and was declared the best rider from Mumbai.
Mumbai’s Jinen Shah was adjudged the best of five first-timers and was awarded the late Firdosh Vajifdar trophy for his spirited riding.
Among the ladies Lorettoa D'lomen (23), Nidhi Shukla (21) and Haryana’s Kimi Arora (26) displayed fine skills and Nidhi was adjudged the best lady driver.