Sethi and co-driver Rajkumar Mundra came second with 1,847 penalty points.
Siliguri: It was a mission accomplished for Ajgar Ali, who completed his hat-trick of titles with co-driver Mohammad Mustafa at the Himalayan Drive International TSD Rally here on Saturday.
Jogendra Jaiswal and his co-driver Nagarajan Thangaraj started the final leg leading but slipped to third after they missed out on the penultimate time control and paved way for Ajgar and Mustafa to defend their title successfully with 1,110 penalty points.
“We missed the second-last time control and handed 900 penalty points. It is disappointing, but the winners deserve the title,” Thangaraj said as they ended with 2,035 penalty points. .
The terrain was the most challenging one in the last leg as the rallyists went through the riverbed of Diana to experience hair-pin bends in the Darjeeling Himlayan range. It also had a blend of thick forests before finishing off at the riverbed of Nechi on the India-Nepal border.
The Leg 4 was flagged-off from Jaigaon and it ended in Kalimpong late on Friday night while the final leg saw the competitors traverse from Kalimpong to Siliguri on Saturday.
“We missed the title by a whisker in the second edition after we missed the last Time Control and today was the same situation with the same kind of riverbed. But this time we learnt from our mistakes and we were very careful and executed well and it paid dividends. I am happy I completed my hat-trick. I also give credit to my co-driver for this achievement. Mustafa did an excellent job today. He is very calm and maintained his composure in every situation,” said four-time champion Ajgar, who clinched his first title in the maiden edition.
Gagan Sethi won the Himalayan Drive 2018 in the open category but this year he decided to participate in the national category and was happy with his maiden performance. Sethi and co-driver Rajkumar Mundra came second with 1,847 penalty points. He was seventh after the initial stages but bounced back to grab the third spot and maintained that momentum till the end.