Bangalore: Manali`s Suresh Rana, the multiple winner of Raid de Himalaya and Desert Storm, will again go head-to-head with last year`s winner Amanpreet Ahluwalia in the five-day 6th Maruti Suzuki Dakshni Dare Rally, a cross-country event, commencing here in early Tuesday.
Rana will be piloting a Maruti Gypsy instead of the Grand Vitara he drove last year when he finished second, as also two of his closest rivals, Ahluwalia and the seasoned campaigner Sandeep Sharma.
The experienced trio is expected to set the standards as the 22 four-wheelers in the Ultimate category begin their gruelling journey from Bangalore to Goa with night halts in Chitradurga and the historic town of Hampi.
Also in the fray are some 33 two-wheelers, led by last year`s winner Nataraj Rajanna and a few scooters who like the cars in the Ultimate category will be competing over 18 Special Stages en route to Goa.
While those in the Ultimate category and the two-wheelers will have to traverse difficult terrain with speed as their watchword, 40 four-wheelers will be following a different route up to Hampi in Endurance category which is run on a TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) format that puts a premium on navigation rather than just driving.
Heading the Endurance field are country`s top driver-navigator crews of Karthick Maruthi and Sankar Anand from Erode and Bangalore`s husband-wife combination of Satish Gopalkrishnan and Savera D`Souza.
The Endurance participants will travel to Mysore and then on to Shimoga before meeting up with the Ultimate competitors in Hampi from where they proceed to Goa.
The participants, who will finish the event in Goa Saturday evening, took part in a ceremonial flag-off at a city mall here Monday after passing pre-event scrutiny to ensure the vehicles conform to strict safety regulations.