Reigning local rally champions Shafraz Junaid and co-driver Akhry Ameer stamped their supremacy at the first rally outing for 2017, emerging winners of the KORAC TSD Night Rally 2017, which concluded in Kandy last weekend with a clear debit margin.
The Time-Speed-Duration (TSD) rally organised by the Kandy Off Road and Adventure Club also saw their team Bigfoot Racing clinching the team title.
Rally winners Shafraz Junaid (L) and co-driver Akhry Ameer (R) pose with their awards
Dan de Silva and Muditha Adikari emerged runners-up with 510 debit points, edging Samin Attanayake who achieved the same debit points but had to settle for third overall based on the tie-breaking rules of the rally. Shafraz and Akhry scored a total of 180 debit points.
The 400 km two-stage rally was full of stories of ‘it isn’t over till the end’ as the competitors held on to their pedals despite varied problems. However, Shafraz and Akhry proved that rallying is a sport of managing man and machine by persevering till the end despite losing valuable time to adjust brake-binding issues repeatedly in their Maxxis Subaru GC-8 from the early stages of the rally.
“It was quite an interesting and challenging rally because for a moment it looked like the ranking was confirmed by the end of the first stage. We were in fourth position with two of the challengers being in our own team, but the muddy uphill terrain at the start of the second stage shattered the leader board. I would like to thank Maxxis for their support with rally tires and Motorcade for fitting us with Hela beams which I believe were two crucial ingredients,” said Shafraz, whose gravel terrain skills in a car surprised those on the elevated 4x4 jeeps.
The rally car of Shafraz Junaid and Akhry Ameer undergoing service before the commencement of the second stage
Leading the pack, Sam Chandrasoma of Team Bigfoot, who was third in the first stage, had engine reliability issues towards the end of the stage. Heading out fresh after service, he had to opt out early in the second stage, having blown a tire and had issues changing it. Stage one leaders Aloka De Silva and Meesha Gunawardene, who charged their way through, experienced traction issues in the same area of the second stage and began accumulating debit points to finish seventh overall.
Yet another challenger Samin Attanayake, had an experience of a different sort with his co-driver Rizmin Razik falling ill through stage one, but after obtaining approval, made a dash for the stage two title with his new co-driver Amjad Rizvi, enabling him to settle for third place overall.
Yet another surprise run for many of the competitors were the duo of Manoj De Alwis and Kosala Peiris, who emerged second in stage 1 and fourth overall in their Mitsubishi Jeep with bare essentials.
The rally also saw other big names like Pubudu Wickrama, who drove, sharing his experience with his daughter Ashwitha ensuring the spirit of rallying remains alive.
Winning team Bigfoot Racing with their awards. From left: Samin Attanayake, Amjad Rizvi, Sam Chandrasoma, S.K. Mithusanka, Shafraz Junaid and Akhry Ameer
The rally run on the TSD requires all participants to traverse a specified course following a specific time, speed and distance for different segments of the course. Failure to adhere to instructions accrues debit points and the competitor scoring the least debit points is adjudged the winner.
A total of 20 drivers participated in the overnight rally which saw the competition traversing through a mixed terrain heading off from Kandy towards Mahiyanganaya and returning through the Knuckles range into Matale for the first stage and through Galagedera, Kadugannawa, Gampola and Gannoruwa to conclude the second stage in Kandy.