Sunday morning saw excited youngsters, mostly boys, descending on to a racing track in Kulur, off National Highway 66, venue for Maruti Suzuki Auto Cross 2011, a national event organised by the Mangalore Motor Sports Association. By 10 a.m., the track came alive with the sound of two and four wheelers. Announcements requesting participants to “Report to the starting point,” or to track marshals to take position with the flags were made. Rallyists buckled on helmets, donned gloves, chest numbers, and gear to cover their knees, shins and elbows.
At the beginning, the bikers were tense, all set to speed through the track of 800 metres for the qualifying as well as the final rounds. Once flagged off, dust flew as the competing two-wheelers accelerated amidst the smell of petrol and rubber. While the qualifying round had 60 participants, the final round had 40 finalists, said Sudhir BK, president, Mangalore Motor Sports Association, which consists of 12 members, mostly former rallyists.
There was one stretch facing the rallyists, which most of them negotiated when they begun. But while returning from the laps, it seemed to be a tough spot with one biker falling down while negotiating it. As the rallyists were on the track, continual requests were made to spectators, especially children, to watch from a safe distance and not to stand at the turnings.
“Too many pebbles. It's not easy, one slip and you are out of the race,” said Suail Ahmed from Mangalore, after returning from the race. “The track design is lovely and experience matters,” he said.
Chethan Kumar from Puttur, back from the first race, said, “It's good but not very challenging.”
Yathish Baikampady, cor-ordinator of the event, said the track had been left as it was. “Some turns are very difficult. Unless they are skilled, they can't maintain the speed. Although the tyres have buttons, the gravel will hit, like bullets,” he said.
The event began in the morning with bunches of spectators, mostly curious children and teenagers from nearby areas.
By afternoon, however, the place began to get crowded as more spectators came in.
Later, in the afternoon, Arjun Rao Aroor, rallyist and national champion in 1600cc, took Anwar Manippady, Chairman, Karnataka State Minorities Commission on a demo trip. He took Aroor Kishore Rao, Chairman and MD, Arvind Motors, Mangalore. However, the vehicle appeared to have developed a snag during the second demo trip.