Manali: The two day autocross rally concluded here today with Manali resident Hitesh Sharma winning the overall trophy in first national Himalayan Autocross that was organized on a very challenging dirt track of the country designed by a group of rally enthusiasts. As many as 74 participants from Himachal and other states lived through a two day gruelling event that passed off without any major accident.
The organizers under the banner of Himalayan Xtreme Sports Association intend to develop world class infrastructure to host international events. Last year the organizers had accepted entries only from Himachal rally enthusiasts to promote the sport among local youth. This is the only dirt track for rally in Himachal having total length just over 2.5km spread that is spread over 50 bigha of private land at Patlikuhal, 20km from here.
“We had men, women, veterans, professional racers and novice who took part in different races in car, 4X4 extreme and motorbike categories. Hitesh Sharma was the overall winner in 4X4 extreme category. Sahil Khanna clocked lowest time in car category and Amit Kapoor finished at first place motorbike category,” said Pintu Sood, one of the organizers.
Top rallyist of the country Suresh Rana has designed the track that has hurdles like river crossing, dirt, sand, gravel, boulders, sharp turns, slush and jumps. Pintu added that automobile rally is fast growing sport across the world and this track which meets international standards is helping many youth in honing their racing skills.
“Not only young men but women are also showing their interest in rallying. We had four ladies who took part in Himalayan Autocross. And six veterans ageing more than 40 also participated. Twenty professional racers participated in 4X4 category, 14 rallyists with cars, four in diesel category and 26 in motorbike category. We have given chance to new faces as well and have a special novice category for them” Veer Chatrath, another organizer said.
Battle hardened Suresh Rana, who has proven his mettle on extreme roads in the Himalayas, deserts of Rajasthan and slippery tracks of South India, has been imparting training to making a force younger rallyists by teaching them the finer nuances of cross country racing and the associated risks involved with it. “Though the entry is open for all, our first preference is rallyist from Himachal. We have worked on safety of the drivers and viewers on the track. This track, no doubt among the most beautiful but challenging tracks of the country, has offered a platform for rally lovers of the country,” says Rana.
Photos by Sanjay Dutta