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The 2019 edition of the Mahindra Monsoon Challenge was held in the first week of July between the 5th to 7th. The Monsoon Challenge 2019 is one of the biggest TSD (Time, Speed & Distance) Rally held in the country. We got the opportunity to participate in the rally which included two days of navigating through the beautiful western ghats. The event started off from the coastal city of Mangalore and concluded in the hilltops of Ooty.
The event was held across two days, with the first day consisting of a drive from Mangalore to Mysore covering a total distance of 360km. The second day saw participants driving a total of 240km starting off from Mysore and concluding the rally at Ooty.
During the two days of driving, participants got a chance to experience all types of driving scenarios including highways, B-lanes and rough stretches, all while managing to stick to the Time, Speed and Distance mentioned in the Road Book.
What Is A TSD Rally?
TSD or Time-Speed-Distance Rally is a class of rally which doesn't depend on speed alone, unlike other motorsport events. A TSD rally involves participants completing the entire course adhering to a specific speed limit for various distances.
Along the way, secret checkpoints are placed at different intervals to note the time taken to cover the distance. Penalty points are awarded for coming in too quick as well as coming in late. However, participants coming in early will receive double penalty points.
Also, this type of rally relies heavily on the navigators as there is no fixed route to reach the final destination. Each team is handed over a ‘Road Book' which offers precise navigation to be followed by the participants. The book also comes with a speed chart, which the participants have to strictly adhere to as well.
The rally is further organised by the Indian Motor Sports Club (IMSC) and is approved by FMSCI, the governing body of Motorsports in India.
The Mahindra Monsoon Challenge 2019
Monsoon Challenge is held by Mahindra Adventures and is open specifically for Mahindra owners alone. The rally itself consists of three main categories: Professional, Amateurs and Open and four other sub-categories of Corporate, Doctors, Ladies and Media.
This year, Mahindra Adventures recorded a participation of over 40 teams (each team consisting of two people: Driver and Navigator). The participants can take part in a maximum of two categories, one from the main list and one from the sub-categories list. The winner of the TSD rally at the end will receive a cash price of Rs 5.5 lakh.
Monsoon Challenge Experience
The night before the start of the rally, there was a briefing held for all participants. Here all of us got a chance to understand what each of us had to do and also how to go about tackling the terrain during the rally.
On the start of the first day, we were handed over the keys to a Mahindra Scorpio, which would be our rally car for the following two days. We headed out of the hotel early in the morning after setting our trip metres to zero.
Without the help of GPS from our phones, we started to navigate our way out of the city and on to the highways depending entirely on the trip metre reading and the Road Book handed over to us.
Once we got out of the city and headed on to the highway, things seemed pretty easy at first. Follow the speed limit specified and cruise along easily on the curvy state highways. However, this did not last for long, as we turned away from the highway and started to enter narrow b-lane roads.
We did have trouble understanding the directions at first, as they are hand-written in the form of sketches on paper. We did manage to closely follow the directions mentioned, after eventually getting an understanding of the Road Book. However, we did notice a number of participants missing turns, or stopping to cross-check the navigation points.
Soon the small narrow b-lane roads gave way to rough tarmac which dropped our speeds even further. However, there were a few places where we did get ‘Free Zones'. These zones did not have any speed limits nor any marshals, allowing us to drive fast and enjoy the scenic route along the way.
Being part of the media category, we participated only till the halfway point on the first day. This gave us time in the second half to explore the roads set out by Mahindra without any speed limits, while also being able to witness the progress of other participants as well.
The route selected turned out to be absolutely mesmerising with the monsoon rains, adding to the charm of the western ghats. The roads themselves consisted of good and bad stretches, making it an absolutely amazing experience to drive through.
The first day finally came to an end at the town of Mysore by around 6 p.m, with yet another day of driving ahead of us. The first day saw us in the lead from the other media group, which only added to the excitement for the next day.
Similar to the first day from Mangalore to Mysore, the second day also saw us leave our hotel early in the morning; again with the trip metre set to zero and only our Road Book to guide us to the finish line.
The second day had us drive from Mysore to Ooty. We started off at approximately the same time in the morning and made quick ground through the first Free Zone which lasted for about 30 mins.
After the first 30 mins of Free Zone, we studiously slowed down adhering to the speed limit specified. The second day also had us passing through highways, b-lanes and rough patches. However, this time we were closing in on the ghats, which meant we even had to handle the twisty roads while climbing up towards our destination.
At about 3 p.m. we reached our final checkpoint where we handed over our timing sheets and the competition had finally ended. However, we still had some distance to cover as we made our way through the Bandipur National Park and reached our place of stay in Ooty by 6:30 in the evening.
By around 8:30 p.m. all the calculations were made and the prize distribution ceremony began. With all the winners announced along with their timings, we could see how close everyone one was to each other. The professional category was a close battle with there being little to no difference between the top-three teams.
Thoughts On The Mahindra Monsoon Challenge 2019
The Mahindra Monsoon Challenge was my first taste of a professional TSD rally competition. It definitely was a great opportunity for me to experience something never tried before, which along with the weather and beautiful roads, made it all the more exciting.
However, be warned, the rally might seem easy at first, but is definitely a challenge once you actually are a part of it.