Kohima, Dec 5 (IANS) The setting could not have been any prettier as Dr. Chumben Murry, Nagaland's minister for agriculture, Wednesday flagged-off the fourth round of the JK Tyre-FMSCI Indian National TSD Rally Championship that is being run as part of the Hornbill Rally at the Indira Gandhi Stadium here.
In all, 56 cars and eight two-wheelers are taking part in the 140-km Rally that will begin Thursday morning and conclude later in the day.
The event is being run coinciding with the world famous Hornbill Festival and organised by the Nagaland Adventure and Motor Sports Association (NAMSA) in association with Berunda Adventure Sports Club, Mysore with support from the Government of Nagaland.
Of the 64 entries, 20 are participating in the JK Tyre-FMSCI TSD Indian National Rally Championship while the rest in a concurrent event open to local enthusiasts.
Championship leaders in the TSD INRC Karthick Maruthi and his navigator Sankar Anand, both from Erode and driving a Mahindra Thar, hoped to consolidate their position in the Overall and Pro-Expert class that they head with a tally of 65 points.
"We have prepared as well as we could and we want to do better than in the previous three rounds," said Maruthi, who finished second in the opening two rounds before winning the third in Jaipur.
Heading the leaderboard in the Pro-Stock class are the Bangalore duo of Chidananda Murthy and navigator Sujith Kumar B.S. of Tata Motors Full Throttle who are comfortably placed with 65 points and well clear of the rest of the field.
"We made a couple of errors in the third round at Jaipur that cost us some time but we are confident of doing well," said Murthy, who won two rounds but finished third in Jaipur and will be driving a Tata Vista.
Meanwhile, the oldest participant in the rally, the 59-year-old Mrs. Dipali Poddar and her navigator Ipshita Das, both from Kolkata, in a Maruti Wagon-R, was quite modest of her chances.
"We did fairly well in the previous three rounds but for this round I am without my car Maruti Esteem that couldn't reach Kohima in time. I hope that we will do well in this round," said Poddar, who took time out from running a nursing home in Kolkata.
"I have been rallying since 2002 and taken part in various events. My family has been very supportive of me and I would like to win a cup for my grandson who is just two months old and of course my husband who has always encouraged me," Poddar added.
The participants will traverse 140 km through parts of National Highway 29, Touphema tourist village and culminate at the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama.