Mangalore (Karnataka) - T. Sasikumar (co-driver M Prakash) took a slender three-second lead at the end of the first leg in the Mahindra Monsoon Challenge Rally in association with Apollo Tyres that ended here Friday night.
Sasikumar finished the first leg with a penalty of 28 seconds, while Karthik Maruthi (S. Sankar Anand) were placed second with 31 seconds, ahead of Sanjay Takale (Mohd Mustafa) who had a penalty of 36 seconds.
After the flag-off from Bangalore in the morning, the vehicles made their way to this coastal city after a scenic journey that took the 34 starters through the coffee estates of Kodagu before descending into Mangalore.
Rains kept their date with the participants who had to negotiate some tricky terrain and winding roads while keeping a lookout for strategically placed Time Control points that caught out the unwary.
While Sasikumar was in a Mahindra Logan, Maruthi and Takale drove a SUV as also fourth placed Amittrajit Ghosh (Neerav Mehta), fresh from his victory in the recent Mughal Rally in Kashmir. Ghosh docked a penalty of 46 seconds.
The competition was fierce in the event that is being run on Time-Speed-Distance format which put premium on navigation. So much so that just 57 seconds separated Sasikumar and 12th placed Sudip Kumar Ghosh (Arindam Ghosh).
After a night halt, the vehicles will proceed to Shimoga on the second leg Saturday before departing for Goa on the final leg Sunday.