DERAWAR FORT - Renowned car racer and food minister Sindh Nadir Magsi triumphed again in 7th Cholistan Jeep Rally as the three-day gala ended with an impressive prize ceremony here on Sunday.

Mr Mugsi was followed by Anas Khakwani while Zafar Mugsi stood third in the lead A category. Corps Commander Bahawalpur Lt. Gen. Haroon Aslam distributed prizes among winners. The participating vehicles were split in four categories according to their engine power and the winner of each category was given cash prize worth Rs. 1.50 lac while runner up Rs. 1.25 lac and the third positioner Rs. 1 lac.

Makhdoom Amir Abbas grabbed first place in B category while Awais Khakwani clinched second position and Jam Kamal Khan remained third. The C category was led by Mehrab Khan followed by Mahmood Majeed and Ali Mugsi as runner up and third respectively. Mian Rafiq Ahmad finished the race as winner in D category while Khan Muhammad was declared second and Mian Zubair third.

A late-night incident jeopardized the rally as a truck carrying goods got stuck on the track in wee hours of Sunday. However, the TDCP officials succeeded to remove the big buddy from the track with the help of Rangers personnel after a tough exercise of couple of hours. 

Although seven vehicles including that of qualifier runner-up Roni Patel’s went off track because of technical fault, no unhappy or untoward incident took place and the rally concluded peacefully. The track was guarded by Rangers personnel, who kept spectators at a reasonable length from the racing area to avert any untoward incident.

The rally looked a family affair as three brothers from Multan namely Anas, Awais and Mazhar Khakwani, as many from Ghotki Mian Farooq, Bashir and Rafiq as well as two from Jhal Mugsi Nadir and Zafar Mugsi participated in it.

The jeep of the winner of qualifying round Nadir Mugsi was let off on the track first followed by his runner up Roni Patel, Awais Khakwani, Anas Khakwani, Qasim Buppi and others respectively.

The TDCP sources disclosed that 71 jeeps got through the qualifying round successfully out of which 65 ran in the race and 58 crossed finish line. The first jeep of the rally was flagged off by the parliamentary secretary for tourism Punjab Rana Muhammad Arshad while Austrian ambassador to Pakistan Axel Wech, MNA Saud Majid and other dignitaries also performed the same.

The last day of the rally-the racing day-attracted a massive crowd and spectators were seen standing on either sides of the 233 km long track.  “Well, it’s obvious. We were already expecting a big crowd. It’s the largest sporting event of the country and every year about 100,000 spectators come from all parts of the country,” said Saad S Khan, Managing Director of Tourism Development Corporation Punjab, while talking to this scribe.

Earlier, the dwellers of Cholistan desert cheered up as Jeep Rally brought with it three days of non-stop festivity to them in terms of musical concerts, exhibition of fireworks, stunts played by different artistes and thrilling car racing.

Traffic jams also took place time and again on the approach road to Derawar Fort because of its poor condition and long queues of vehicles exiting the area after the rally. The broken road caused severe inconvenience to the spectators and they strongly protested against Bahawalpur administration. The TDCP officials alleged that the Commissioner Bahawalpur did not get constructed the road despite multiple assurances from him regarding its construction before the rally.

The tent villages, stalls of edibles, soft drinks and local handicrafts disappeared as quickly as they had surfaced overnight. “It’s not the end of game. Next year we’re going to hold even bigger event. It will be international. This rally is going to be International Cholistan Challenge (ICC) from next year onwards,” declared Saad S. Khan.