Shimla: Raid-de-Himalaya, the most popular cross country motorsport event in the country, is eyeing big time and hopes to be counted among the international events in the discipline.
Before the launch of the 9th Raid Manjeev Bhalla, vice-president Himalayan Motorsports said that the Raid route crossed over some of the highest passes in the world, offering some of the most spectacular views, and aspired to among the top five cross country motorsport events in the world.
“To make it an international event, neither the route with its difficult terrain as yet has the infrastructure nor are the finances in place to conduct one at that scale,” said Bhalla.
He said that the route, this year would cover 1715 Kms, spread over 7 legs in a week and starting from Shimla would end at Srinagar. Early morning tomorrow, sports minister Ram Lal flags of the Raid.
Simo Lampinen, observer from the Paris based FÃ©dÃ©ration Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) who was present said the Raid locale was ‘incredible fantastic’ and could make it to the world cross country championship category.
Tremendous response forced the organizers to close entries and allow 145 teams, the largest ever, to participate this year. Among the participants are 6 international teams, 5 women teams, 97 four wheelers (38 competing in the X-treme category and 59 in the adventure trial) and 48 bikers, which include heavy duty bikes like BMW 650, Yamana 400, Suzuki 400 and KTN 450. The army is pitching in 6 teams and the air force one team. A women biker, Claudia Honeder, an Australian, is participating in the X-treme two wheeler category for the first time. Winner of last three races, Suresh Rana from Manali, is in the hunt for his fourth title.
The competitive section is spread over 607 Km and has a transport section of 1715 Km. The route traverses through Manali, Kaza, Gramphoo, Patseo, Leh and Kargil to reach Srinangar on October 8. Along the way one has to cross 11 of the worlds highest passes which includes the over 18000 feet Khardung La and Tanalang la, said Bhalla.