For most of us, driving on tarmac is all we can handle. Off-roading, however, is about creating roads where none exist — giving new meaning to the old phrase ‘The road less travelled’. On Saturday, leading and emerging motorsport clubs of north India took part in Mahindra Uncaged, the extreme off-road challenge held at Dera Bassi, organised by Team Chandigarh Adventure Sports (TCAS) in collaboration with InCarNation Sports.
A total of 16 teams with 64 competitors from north India competed in the event. The competitors took on demanding off-road challenges — ditches, slush, steep hill climbs, a shallow pond and finally the adventure trail — spread over 20 acres. “The whole set up cost about R15 lakh,” said Nikhil Jaspal, experienced rallyist and one of the organisers. “The cars can cost anywhere between a few lakhs to R10 lakh. Further enhancements to prepare the cars for off-roading will also burn a hole in one’s pocket,” he added, verifying that it most certainly isn’t a cheap thrill, literally.
When off-roaders set out, they hope for the best but prepare for the worst. “All challenges here today are designed to hone specific techniques. When we are off-roading, we are in places that are miles away from any form of civilization. If and when we get stuck, we need to be able to help ourselves out,” added Jaspal.
Sanjiv Singh, team leader of Terrain Tigers from Gurgaon has been coming to Chandigarh for Mahindra Uncaged for the past two years and has been off-roading for eight.
With close to 700 members, one wonders if any of them are women, to which Singh says, “About 35% of our members are women and they are more than eager to challenge the notion that off-roading isn’t a popular sport for women.”
He also spoke about their recent win in the SJOBA Sub-Himalayan Rally, where his team wrested the trophy from team Thunderbolt. “It was the first time in the past decade that anyone had taken over team Thunderbolt,” he adds proudly. And where did this love for the extreme sport arise?
“In my case it happened because I was an army kid and grew up surrounded by jeeps, travelling to offbeat destinations,” says he.
Further plans for rallyists include the Mughal Rally, to be organised in Kashmir at the end of June, Raid-de-Himalaya and Desert Storm, two of the most famous off-roading events organised in India.