Srinagar, Oct 18 (IANS) Experienced driver Raj Singh Rathore and his co-driver Amber Udasi clinched the top prize in the 17th edition of the Raid de Himalaya, the world’s highest altitude motorsports rally, by drivng his Polaris across the finish line first in the Xtreme four-wheeler category.
Tsering Lakhpa (co-driver Venu Ramesh Kumar) finished second while nine-time winner Suresh Rana (Parminder Thakur) finished third here on Saturday in his Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara.
“This is an extremely overwhelming moment for me. I have been dreaming the entire year to lift this trophy and I am extremely happy that my dream has come true,” said Rathore.
“I hope to keep the adrenaline rush going in the next year’s Raid. It only gets more challenging every year and I am looking forward to retaining my title.”
Bengaluru’s Arvind K.P. was crowned champion in the Xtreme two-wheeler category, followed by last year’s winner Nataraj R. and Ashish Saurabh Moudghil in second and third positions respectively.
This year, the cross country endurance rally saw 167 participants travelling 1,920 km over six days. The off-roading event started in Shimla and traversed through some of the most picturesque and eye-grabbing locations in the Himalayas with night halts at Manali, Dalhousie, Srinagar and Rangdum.
The last leg of the rally started from a small Ladakhi village of Rangdum and concluded in the heart of Kashmir – Srinagar.
In the Adventure category, meant for driving enthusiasts, the top slot was bagged by Jagmeet Gill with navigator Chandan Sen, who completed the race with a total penalty score of 16 minutes and 58 seconds. Both had won last year too.
Ajgar Ali (Mohd. Mustafa) emerged as the first runner-up while Karthick Murthi (S. Sankar Anand) finishing third. There were a total of 55 teams participating in the category.
The 17th edition of the Raid stands out because of the highest number of women participants with Bani Yadav returning to give tough competition while Anu Rana and her navigator Poonam Rana winning the Coup de Dames title.
“We are overwhelmed to see the response received for our flagship motorsport event Raid de Himalaya,” Maruti Suzuki, title sponsors of the event, executive director R.S. Kalsi said.
“This year has been exciting to follow, to see the passion of the rallyists even against the toughest conditions. This participation and excitement raises the bar making the rally more eventful with every season.”
The Raid is being organised by the Himalayan Motorsport Association since 1999.