The 19th edition of the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya powered by Mobil1 has officially kicked off and stage 1, 2 and 3 of the rally has been completed. The Raid De Himalaya is one of the few race events in the country which has gained a legendary status and a cult following over nearly two decades of its existence.
The grueling rally started at Manali this year where the scrutiny took place over the first two days (6-7th October) and the ceremonial flag-off too took place on 7th October.
Leg 1 of the 2017 Raid De Himalaya started in the wee hours of Sunday, 8th October and covered the 203 kilometre distance between Manali and kaza, passing through Gramphoo and Losar.
Leg 2 of the Rally saw the participants cover the same route in reverse, going from Kaza to Losar to Gramphoo, taking a diversion there towards Keylong and then towards Sarchu and ending the stage at the Army Camp in Pang. Leg 3 involved covering the distance from Pang to Leh, via Daat
Participants rode and drove through narrow roads and sometimes no roads at all. The stages this year were slower as road conditions had deteriorated more compared to last year. The locales in which the Raid is taking place are scenic and devoid of connectivity.
This condition makes for a great, distraction-free racing environment but it also makes getting updates about the rally and the standings harder, which is why official results of Leg 1, 2 and 3 along with pictures have not surfaced yet.
However there is some information trickling in that there are many participants who did not finish, and there are a few who have had to retire from the rally owing to mechanical issues and crashes.
R Nataraj, Abdul Wahid Tanveer and Sanjay Kumar finished first, second and third respectively after the 1st leg, in the X-treme Bikes class. Suresh Rana, Harpreet Singh Bawa and Sanjay Razdan finished first, second and third respectively after the 1st leg in the X-treme Cars class.
At the end of the third stage, Abdul Wahid Tanveer lead the pack in the X-treme Bikes class. Natraj R and Vishwas SD took second and third places respectively. In the X-treme Cars class, Suresh Rana, Sanjay Razdan and Dharampal Jangra took first, second and third places respecitvely.
The next three legs of the rally will be completed by the 13th of October. It would be challenging for sure as the riders and drivers compete at altitudes of upto 17,500 feet with temperatures going as low as -15 degrees celsius.
This year, The Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya in association with Mobil1 has over 100 teams and nearly 170 participants competing, of which there are six women-only teams and 8 Indian Army teams.
Leg 4 of the rally would start tomorrow, covering the 220 kilometres distance from Leh to Kargil.
The Raid De Himalaya certainly lives up to its name, generating increased levels of excitement year after year for nearly two decades now.