Raid-de-Himalaya flagged off with 144 rallyists

Shimla, Oct 6: The 14th edition of the Raid-de-Himalaya, one of the world’s toughest off-road motor rallies, was flagged off from the Himachal Pradesh state capital Saturday.

Covering 1,800 km of treacherous Himalayan terrain, the rally comprising 144 motorists will culminate in Leh in Jammu and Kashmir Oct 12.

Manjeev Bhalla, vice-president of the Himalayan Motorsport Association, the Shimla-based club that annually organises the rally, said it would travel through Manali, Kaza, Hikim, Keylong, Sarchu, Pang and Leh.

There are 50 participants in the four-wheeler X-treme category, 34 in the motorcycle X-treme category and 60 in the adventure category.

“This time we have eight teams from the Indian army, six women teams and two entries from abroad,” he added.

According to the organisers, the overall distance to be covered by the Raid-de-Himalaya has been reduced to about 1,800 km from last year’s 2,300 km.

There are 11 competitive stages, totalling over 600 km.

The rally will commence early Sunday morning.

Rallyist Suresh Rana captured the last edition of the ‘Raid’ for the seventh time in the four-wheeler X-treme category.

In the motorcycle X-treme category, Helmut Frauwallner of Austria took the honours, becoming the first foreign rallyist to win the ‘Raid’.

In six days it will cross six high mountain passes in the cold desert, including Tanglang La at 17,582 feet.

The Raid-de-Himalaya is the only Asian motor sport event listed in the off-road rallies calendar of the Switzerland-based FIM (Federation Internationale Motorcyclisme), which captures the attention of the international rallying circuit.

IANS