17/03/2016 Max

Super XUV5OO evolution | in www.thrillofdriving.com

The evolution of the Mahindra XUV5OO into the all-conquering Super XUV5OO rally car

22The mere fact that I was born with rather useless nipples is enough for me to disagree with Darwin and his theory of evolution. Give me an unsuspecting crowd and the best liquids from Scotland and I can unravel how magnificent the concept of single cellular organisms are and how the multi-cellular humans can aspire to evolve into something like an amoeba. Since proving such evolutionary traits would need a forum like National Geographic and since I write this column in evo India magazine, I will stick to the evolution of cars.

Alright, since I work for Mahindra the following piece will be considered by many of you as a plug. Well, the truth is, it is. Now can I get on with telling you the story of the evolution of the Mahindra XUV5OO into the all-conquering Super XUV5OO rally car?

Three years back when we started the Adventure division at Mahindra, motorsport was not on the agenda. Sure, we used to participate in TSD rallies and it was natural that Adventure continued the tradition and entered a TSD team in some of the events.

The man who was responsible for this was none other than Lohitt Urs who spent a whole year preparing and running a fleet of Scorpios for us at Rally/Raid events. During the numerous interactions we had, Lohitt planted the seed of a diesel rally car for the ‘extreme’ action at Raid de Himalaya and Desert Storm. He told me daring tales of diesel rallying in South East Asian countries and nudged me to allow him to build a rally Scorpio.

That was about the time our brand new flagship – the XUV5OO was about to be launched. And it looked a far better bet in my eyes to be a rally car – c’mon, just look at it, aggressive to the last bar of the grille, pouncing stance and the monocoque structure all added up to be the perfect starting point for a rally car. Soon we ‘borrowed’ two XUV500s from the rather innocent brand team who thought we would be taking the cars for a few harmless expeditions. What they didn’t know was that these machines were sent to two parts of the country – one to Raj Kapoor at Performance, Delhi and the other to Leela Krishnan at Red Rooster Performance, Bangalore and before you could say what-da-@$#@ these machines were stripped to the bones.

We were new in this game and we decided to hedge our risks and go with two rally-car builders. Oh yes, by then we had Gaurav Gill joining Lohitt Urs in our driver line-up and that meant serious stuff – champions need cars that can win, right? I have to say the cars came out magnificent, at least to look at, when I saw them at the scrutiny bays of Desert Storm 2012. Nothing much was expected out of us but the hissing, panting, growling XUV500s did attract some serious eyeballs. Especially Gaurav’s car with those bug-eye auxiliary lamps.

Both car makers had their own way of building T1-spec rally cars – Raj Kapoor went for weight reduction in a big way. Fibre glass hatch, bonnet, windows was his approach. Leela went for broke with an ECU upgrade and built a reliable platform instead. As expected there were niggles and both cars struggled in the early stages of the rally and eventually Gaurav retired – but not before scorching the sand to set a few stage wins.
Anyone would have lost hope after being relinquished to the back of the grid – but history had to be made and Lohitt did a magnificent come back drive to land the XUV500 on the podium at third place. For the first time a diesel car had reached the podium of an extreme rally in India. We started calling these monsters Super XUVs.
Gaurav and Lohitt finished first and second at Dakshin Dare that followed and Lohitt finished again on the podium at the Mughal Rally. With an invitation from FMSCI to enter INRC events, we entered with our share of doubts. But then, we shouldn’t have. Four rounds on, there is nothing faster than the Super XUV500 in Indian rallying today. Sure driver skill matters but hey, didn’t I tell you earlier that champions deserve winning cars?

So much for the evolution of cars, or rather one car. As for men and their nipples, who knows, some day they might evolve into something useful! Evolution, I tell you, can be fun at times!