Matthai wins Arunachal Festival of Speed

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Dirang (Arunachal Pradesh), March 31 (IANS) The third JK Tyre Arunachal Festival of Speed (AFOS) reached its climactic finish as Philippos Matthai of New Delhi won the overall title after stringing together consistent performances in the Auto Cross, Hill Climb and Rally Sprint events.

But it was by no means a cakewalk for the experienced rally driver as he was pushed to the very end by Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) regular Sanjay Takle and the defending national champion in the Group N 2000cc class Rahul Kantraj from Bengaluru.

Each of the three drivers registered wins in the three categories of AFOS. Matthai threw down the gauntlet by winning the Auto Cross on Wednesday in front of a packed house at the Lopon Stadium in the centre of the town but Kantraj and Takle hit back by winning the 5 km Hill Climb and the 6 km Rally Sprint respectively.

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Kantraj came up a masterful display of speed and car control on the 5 km run up the mountain face at the Rungja Apple and Kiwi Farm. Matthai, who was plagued by car troubles in Hill Climb in the last two editions, finally managed to break the jinx by finishing second behind Kantraj.

Takle came on to his own in the Rally Sprint by powering his Mitsubishi Cedia through riverbeds and sandy soil of the Sangti Valley to beat Matthai by a massive margin of over 10 seconds. Kantraj claimed third place in the sprint that was good enough to assure him of overall second.

In the 1600cc class, Karna Kadur, who dominated this category in the 2015 National Rally Championship, was the man to beat right from the first day. Though Dean Mascarenhas tried to keep the Bengaluru driver honest, in the end it was the flawless driving by Kadur that made the vital difference in the results. Druva Chandrashekar, also of Bengaluru, finished third.

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Another star attraction Suresh Rana, who has claimed the Raid de Himalaya nine-times driving various SUVs, remained the king of this category. Rana posted the best times in the SUV class in all the three disciplines ahead of Lima Jamir of Nagaland and local favourite Naku.

In the quad class, Chibor from Meghalaya, who finished second last year, managed to take an easy win ahead of Bitu and Kevin Salo from Nagaland. In the ladies class, Bethadsha Bareh took the top honours by winning the Hill Climb and Rally Sprint.

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