Posted On Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 08:43:46 AM
It might seem a ridiculous sport, one that forces people in cars to take on the sludge instead of the smooth road, but that’s what two Puneites have won glory in.
Entrepreneur Nishant Chhabria and IT professional Shubhendra Singh recently participated in a statewide off-roading championship where they were the only ones from Maharashtra to qualify for a nantional off-roading tournament.
Known as Mudslinger in the off-road circuit, this is a sport entrepreneur Nishant Chhabria has actively been participating in for three years now. His father Kishor Chabbria is an off-road freak himself and his mentor.
|Shubhendra Singh (L) and Nishant Chhabria (R)
“My first attempt was the Alfa Kilo Challenge in 2010 where I used the 1987 Mahindra CJ340 4X4.
A year later, my father and I upgraded to a more powerful machine — the MM550 — an Army Disposal jeep and one of the most powerful machines in India,” said Nishant. It took them a year to remodel it. Of late, the duo also procured a Maruti Gypsy which is being modified.
A part of the Pune and Mumbai Off-roading Club, Nishant enjoys the monsoon and makes sure he indulges in adventurous activities. So when he heard of the Mahindra Trophy 2012, Nishant applied.
“This was the first time I was participating in a competitive event on such a scale.” Joining him was IT pro Shubhendra Singh who is also an amateur and has been off-roading for a few years now. “Off-roading is not only about driving, it includes precision and judgement. It involves a lot of mental and physical strength which helps you stay alert!”
“They had a selection process where 25 jeeps enrolled for the Maharashtra Circuit. The points were awarded for vehicle preparation — modified or stock, approaching the obstacle, drive through the obstacle and external help or no help. There was no timing for the same.
The lesser-modified vehicles with least vehicle abuse, tackling the obstacle well made it through with more points,” adds Nishant who along with Shubendra Singh will compete with 14 drivers across the country in the semifinals on December 7 at Lonavala.
Nishant explains, “Off-roading has been an extremely thrilling experience. It is a complete de-stresser as it not only involves driving but is linked with overnight camping, a barbeque and get-togethers.
Among friends I have always been appreciated for my off-roading abilities and when this came my way I put in all my effort to see that my vehicle did the best it could.”
The race had two difficult obstacles. “The first was crossing a river. We were unaware of the depth as the water was muddy and a rock could cause damage.
At a point, the water as low as three-four feet, but as the jeep is equipped with a snorkel we just drove out — no stopping, no reversing. We had to cross a distance of 50 metres in one attempt,” said Nishant.
The next was to go down a slushy ditch with an unknown depth. “This was a difficult obstacle and only a few jeeps made it, my jeep is 100 per cent stock-equipped with mud terrain tyres as I don't believe in modifications. If the Indian army can trust the MM550 then why can’t we.”