Off-roading is in our DNA
The champions had already proved their might at the respective Great Escapes. But the Mahindra Adventure Off-roading Trophy 2015 was slated to be the mother of all off-roading combats, one that would determine the Champion of Champions. And what better battleground to test their master skills than Mahindra’s own off-roading backyard i.e. the Mahindra Adventure Off-Road Training Academy in Igatpuri.
The track at the Academy is laden with over 30 obstacles, and the meanest and the toughest 8 were thrown at the off-road champions. 33 Challengers, who were ultimately divided into two groups, from all corners of India had gathered to face the ultimate battle to take a crack at winning the Thar and the much coveted – Best Off-Roader of India title.
It all started with two challenges, the ‘Trailer Challenge’ where the adventurers had to roll their 4x4 machine towing a trailer through a climbing left hand turn with slippery rocks at the crest. The second test was the ‘Reverse Fetch’, where they had to drive through a zig-zag slush pit on a forward hill, secure the flag and reverse back to the start point. The trick was to find a path that would give the vehicle traction and a proper hold. The judging was done on the basis of four parameters - vehicle preservation, approach technique, drive-through technique and use of external help.
The next set of obstacles were truly nail-biting. How often do you witness the mighty Thar balancing itself on a precarious bridge and clambering up an ever slippery hill in the ‘railway crossing’? It conjures up a rather awe-inspiring visual. Here, the contestants had to drive down a hill, turn around and climb a steep hill paved without losing grip of the ground.
There was an uncanny adrenaline rush in the air, as 16 finalists braced themselves to go full throttle. The Semi-finalists, who didn’t make it on the second day, played the role of spotters. They were judged on their effective communications on correct approach line, adherence to safety norms such as not walking in front of the vehicle, staying out of the bunting area and guiding the vehicle through a safe line. One of them wonderfully summed up a spotter's role, “I am your eye and you listen to me without any hesitation.”
The four finale challenges - Pond Rush II, Ball in Mouth II, Slush Pit II and the Rock Crawl - could be only conquered with a lot of precision, technique, skill, that killer instinct to always stay in front of the herd and your spotter’s ability to throw light upon every approaching hurdle.
Under the scorching heat, with regular guzzling of water and refreshments, the challengers were in a mood to take on anything that came their way. The ride was bumpy, the tracks were rocky, the pits were slippery but the drivers & spotters were determined. Soon the final four obstacles were conquered and now it was time to find out who is the one that the peaks bowed down to.
After an action packed day, it was time to recap the triumphs, felicitate the victors and celebrate the spirit of adventure. At the glittering Adventure Night in Mumbai, stalwarts were recognised for their individual brilliance on the tracks in the enthusiastic presence of off-roading stars from previous Escapes.
The winners of the Mahindra Off-Roading Trophy 2015 are:
Winner - Abinav Nukala
1st Runner up – Bobbie Bhogal
2nd Runner up – P Saran
Winners in best Spotter category:
Winner – Suraj Thomas
1st Runner up – Sewak Singh Khosa
2nd Runner up – Meeth Tariang
Winner of Mahidra Off-Roading Trophy (Female Category) – Sapna Gurukar
Like they say "Life is an adventure that never ends." Mahindra Adventure Season 5… here we come !