Words by Afzal Rawuther
The 19th edition of the Raid de Himalaya was flagged off from Manali today. The mandatory scrutiny check was conducted prior to the flag-off to ensure that safety regulations were complied with. The rally is the highest motorsport rally in the world and is considered to be among the toughest in the world. Over 170 motorsport enthusiasts in 110 teams are participating in this rally which will culminate at Leh with the prize distribution ceremony on October 14.
The rally will take competitors through Kaza, Sarchu, Pang, Leh, Kargil and Pensi La. Altitudes of around 17,500ft will be attained during the course of the rally. The terrain is at places is inhospitable with temperatures falling to as low as -15 degree Celsius.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Sanjeev Handa, Vice President, Marketing, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. said, “Keeping up with our commitment of providing adrenaline rush and thrusting challenges, we are pleased to flag-off yet another exciting journey amidst huge fanfare. Rated among the top ten most difficult rallies in the world, the premiere motorsport spectacle of the country has grown slowly but strongly into the rallying phenomenon it is today. From a small rally that began in 1999 with just 19 teams, it has been a long journey since then and has seen over 110 teams and over 170 participants go head to head for the most coveted title in Indian rallying history.”
Winning last year’s top title, Team Maruti Suzuki Motorsport’s Suresh Rana co driven by PVS Murthy will look to defend their X-treme Cars title in their Grand Vitara, Sandeep Sharma and Karan Arya in their S. Cross, Hari Krishnan and Dinesh Dhankar in their Ignis, Dhram Pal Jangra and Thinless Namgail in Vitara Brezza and Samrat Yadav and S.N. Nizami driving Gypsy.
This year, there are 6 women teams along with 8 army teams participating across the different competitive categories.
The rally is divided into three categories – X-treme Cars, X-treme Bikes and Adventure; and will cover about 1850 kms over a span of 7 days.