Raid De Himalaya, the motorsport rally which is also considered as one of the toughest in the world thanks to treacherous terrain, difficult weather, and the altitude. No matter how much one tells themselves of the perils involved in this, the number of participants keeps increasing every year.
The 18th edition of Raid De Himalaya was flagged off from Manali in association with Maruti Suzuki, Himalayan Motorsport and Mobil1 on the 8th of September 2016 with over a 100 raiders on Cars, Quads and Bikes. These participants had set their goals for the next few days racing at altitudes ranging between 10,000 ft to 16,000 ft, extreme terrains and harsh climatic conditions.
We started our journey from Delhi on 6th. Reached Manali, the starting point by morning of the 7th, a day before the rally was to be kicked off.
Day 0 was spent over the scrutiny process of the vehicles wherein each vehicle was checked thoroughly, to see if all safety regulations and equipments were as per the legislation of FIA. The participants had a mandate to wear Crash helmets and Fire Proof suits all throughout the competition as if they they crash into a rock or tumble down the valley they should be less hurt.
Himlayan Motorsport in addition had ensured proper Medical Evacuation facilities through Ambulances, Helicopters and Marshals that were placed at major points.
Day 1 LEG 1
The Leg 1 took off from the crossroads of Gramphu towards the dangerous roads of the Lahaul Spiti valley. The Raiders passed through the settlements of Chhattru, Chhotadhara, Batal, the magnificent Kunzum La pass and concluding at Lossar.
Taking the lead were TVS RTR 450 riders Tanveer Abdul Wahid covering the Leg 1 in 01:18:29 followed by TVS’s factory rider Natraj R at a mind boggling 01:18:33, a 4 second difference between the two riders.
On 4 wheels the lead was taken by the Lhakpa Tsering with his co driver Ramesh Kumar Venu clocking in at 01:26:58 on their Polaris RZR 1000 ATV followed by the 9 time Raid De Himalaya winner Suresh Rana with his Co Driver Ashwin Naik in their Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara at 01:27:54
The participants have been doing an average speed of 50-60kmph on extremely hard terrains, over river beds, snow trails and upto 1000 ft drops on either sides of the tarmac. Also at such an altitude the lack of oxygen and low pressure was a spoilsport of which each driver/rider took a toll of.
Also, it is not only the participants, the service teams of each participant had been extremely well equipped with more than 3 times the spares one needs for each vehicle to welding machines, air pressure pumps, lubricants, differentials andd even parts of the core engine, just incase anything blows off while fighting through the extremes of nature.
Day 1 Leg 1 ended on a good note with 65 participants finishing through with flying colours and the rest few tens giving up unfortunately.
The rally winds through approximately 3,000 km of rocky, serpentine roads, and participants often face temperatures as low as -10 C! At some points, cars negotiate sharp bends at altitudes touching 5,000 metres above sea level. It is for good reason therefore that Raid de Himalaya is rated amongst the top 10 toughest rallies in the world and given its international standards, sees participation from the world over.
Raid’s gruelling conditions are known to test the endurance of both man and machine as teams steer through some of the world’s highest and toughest motorable roads passing through Manali, Kaza, Sarchu, and Leh in Himachal Pradesh. With Mobil 1 under the hood, drivers competing at Raid De Himalaya can rely on the world’s leading synthetic engine oil to deliver exceptional engine performance and protection – even under such extreme conditions.
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