Shimla, Oct 10 (IANS) The 17th edition of the Raid de Himalaya, the world’s highest altitude and one of the most challenging motorsport rallies, was ceremoniously flagged off here on Saturday.
The six-day event will cover a total distance of 1,921 kilometre and a competitive distance of 611 km, travelling through some of the most picturesque and peaceful locations in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.
The rallyists will start from here in the wee hours of Sunday and travel to Manali before proceeding to Dalhousie, Srinagar and Rangdum in the next one week, halting at night at these places, in the rocky Himalayas and freezing weather.
Leg 1 will see the rallyists travel from the Himachal Pradesh state capital to Manali, covering a total distance of 310 km and a competitive distance of 75 km. The route will pass through Kufri, Theog, Matiyana, Dalog, Chamola, Luhri, Behna, Shuad, Khanag, Banjar, Aut, Kullu before reaching Manali.
Affectionately called the Raid by motorsport aficionados, the event this year sees the highest number of entries. A total of 167 participants will be gutting it out on the flaky, rough and uncertain Himalayan roads under extreme weather conditions, each hoping to grab pole position.
Out of the 167, 57 have registered under Xtreme Motorcycles, 41 in Xtreme four wheelers, 50 in Adventure and 19 in Alpine, who are first time bikers and whose race will last only for the first three days.
S-Cross, a premium crossover recently launched by Maruti Suzuki, who are the title sponsors of the event, will make its debut in the Raid.
“We are overwhelmed to see the response received by our flagship motorsport event. Raid has always been the most challenging rallies and each year we try to bring in more excitement and make it tougher for the participants,” Maruti Suzuki general manager Aditya Aggarwal said.
“The open format and multi-terrain routes with extreme climate conditions bring out the tougher sides of the participants and their driving skills.”
The rally is organised in association with Himalayan Motorsport.
“Raid de Himalaya 2015 promises to be tougher and meaner this time with high uncertainties and enthralling driving,” Himalayan Motorsport president Vijay Parmar said.
“As early onset of winter is predicted in the western Himalayan region, participants may actually face snow and icy winds, mercury falling to 15 degree Celsius below zero at places.”
The Raid will be run in compliance with the International Sporting Code of the international automobile federation (FIA), National Competition Rules (NCR) and General Prescriptions of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI).