Leaving the Dakar Rally much behind, the Maruti Suzuki Raid The Himalaya will take on two of the highest mountain passes in the world this year – the Khardung La and the Wari La. The Raid, the highest motorsport battle arena globally, turns 15 this year. It will run from October 4 to 12. The highest altitude that the Dakar Rally touches is approximately 3,000 feet on a competitive stage. The Raiders will race to Khardung La, at an elevation of 5,602 meters (18,379 feet), and the Wari La, at an elevation of 5,250 meters (17,300 feet) above sea level in Ladakh.
In its 14-year history, the Raid has been able to conquer the Khardung La and the Wari La only once. The high mountain passes are marked by such heavy snowfall and blizzards that they have refused to yield way to motorsport enthusiasts from the country and abroad.
Mr Manohar Bhat, Vice President Marketing of Maruti Suzuki, informed that the 15th Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya boasts of the maximum number of competitors ever, and a record number of entries in each category. This year, the Raid will boast of 45 teams in Raid Xtreme (4x4) and over 45 in Raid Xtreme (Motorcycles and Motoquads). Raid Adventure towers the charts, with 70 teams of speed lovers from all corners of the country. Raid Xtreme is all about speed, while Raid Adventure follows the TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) format.
Mr Bhat said that in the last 15 years, this amazing Himalayan challenge has grown exponentially in stature and difficulty. “It is the only Indian motorsport event listed on the off-road rallies calendar of FIA (Federation Internationale Automobile). Our association with the Raid showcases our vision and our commitment to automobile excellence in the country and globally,” he said.
The Raid will begin from Shimla and traverse the difficult stretches of Kaza and the Monastery Necklace, Khardung La and Wari La, and the temperamental Nubra Valley. It will draw to a close at Leh. The Raid is organized by the premier Shimla-based motorsport club, Himalayan Motorsport. Mr Vijay Parmar, President of Himalayan Motorsport, said the Wari La is going to be a highly exacting challenge for the Raiders.
“The Wari La climb happens in 14 kilometers, while the Khardung La climb takes 32 kilometers. The descent is equally steep and rapid into the Nubra Valley. The challenge of the Raid lies in competitive driving at these impossible altitudes, which demand the best from both man and machine,” said Mr Parmar.
The Raid will be flagged off by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Mr Virbhadra Singh. Himchal Pradesh Principal Secretary Tourism Mr VC Pharka yesterday chaired a meeting to ensure complete coordination of all government departments for the smooth running of the Raid. The issues discussed at the meeting included crowd control by the police during the running of the rally, opening of the roads damaged during the monsoon, arrangement of helicopters for evacuation in case of a medical emergency, re-scheduling of buses so that locals are not inconvenienced and other issues. Senior officials of various departments and top executive members of Himalayan Motorsport Association attended the meeting.