There would be three racing teams in fray for honurs in the 25-km three-loop event to be held in slushy, tricky and muddy conditions with the monsoon having gathered pace over the last week or so, said event organiser Shrikant Karani of Sportscraft at a media conference last night.
While Nataraj will be representing Bengaluru-based TVS Racing team, there would be riders representing Mahindra two-wheelers and, in all probability, a team fielded by Ceat Tyres, Karani said.
The event, carrying a modest total prize pool of Rs 75,000, which includes Rs 10,000 for the top finisher, will have its traditional and ceremonial start in Mumbai a day earlier before the contestants move to adjoining satellite city of Navi Mumbai for the competitive part of the rally.
Among the top contenders will be four-time champions Manjeet Singh Bassan and Shamim Khan. Only 45 entries would be entertained, said Karani. "Among them are 6-7 from Bhopal, from where we used to get 2-3 in earlier years.
There are entries from Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Nashik and Aurgangabad from Maharashtra. There are two women riders too," said Karani.
Entries would be accepted till July 31 but there is a provision to extend the deadline till August 5. "Normally, we hold this unique event, the only such event in the world held in monsoon, in July, but since rains were insufficient, we are holding it in August," said Karani.
As is the case in the past, there would be separate events for three types of vehicles depending on their cubic capacities.
Gulf Oil, which has been sponsoring the event for a long while, is to pitch in again for the 13th year in succession, it was announced.