Dirang (Arunachal Pradesh): Ten-time Raid De Himalaya champion Suresh Rana and seven-time Desert Storm winner Sunny Sidhu are among the favourites along with freshly crowned India Baja champions Gaurav Chiripal and Raj Singh Rathore when the fourth edition of the JK Tyre Arunachal Festival of Speed starts here on Saturday.
Gaurav Chiripal and Raj Singh Rathore were engaged in an intense tussle in the recently concluded India Baja Rally in the demanding sand dunes of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. They will be keen to take their rivalry to the next level in an entirely different terrain now.
National autocross champion Amanpreet Ahluwalia and Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) regulars Sandeep Sharma and Sanjay Agarwal will also aim to make their presence felt.
The multi-discipline racing bonanza, against the backdrop of the picturesque Dirang Valley, assumes importance as accomplished rallyists from across the country will be seen pushing themselves and their machines to the limit during the April 15-17 event.
The local drivers from the north-east will pose their own challenge with Raid de Himalaya winner Lima Jamir leading the charge.
The championship will involve three categories in off-road racing -- Autocross, Sprint and Hill Climb.
As many as 30 rallyists will line up for the first stage, the Autocross.
Divided into three stages, the event will see the participants tackle a 6.8 km-long dirt track on the first day.
In the second stage, they will face a sterner test as they race through a 9-km stretch through the perilous hills in the midst of lush green forests. The last stage will consist of an 8-km dirt track and a one-km tarmac.