The 9 day grueling Raid-de-Himalaya X-treme 4 wheel category ended in a controversy, apparently because of an error on the part of the organizers in tabulating the penalty points accumulated midway through the race, which in the end altered the result dropping Sanket Shanbagh who was running a close second being declared to have finished at 5th position. “The error was pointed out on the last day of the Raid, without giving me a chance to get back into the position and nobody owned up how the computing error had come about”, said Shanbagh.
After being shown in second place on the official site till the penultimate day of the Raid, a dejected Shanbagh said, “I’m disappointed and depressed as my position was the only one that suffered the most.” Defending champion Suresh Rana despite the error emerged victorious for the fifth time in a row. After the error was corrected Capt Amrinder Brar who was shown in 4th position till the last but one day moved into 2nd place. Harprit Singh Bawa has been shown at 3rd place and Anil Wadia at fourth.
The Raid was flagged off from Hotel Peterhoff on October 1 and the rallying began in earnest on October 2 traveling from Shimla to Manali, Manali-Kaza, Kaza-Schiling-Dankar-Kaza, Kaza-Patseo, Patseo-Leh, Leh-Kargil, Kargil-Penzi la-Kargil and Kargil-Leh in the next eight days, which comprised of one Leg each day. Except for Leg 8, Kargil-Leh, which was entirely a transport section, Legs 1 to 7 saw intense competition amongst the rallyists.
Suresh Rana led throughout the event and clocked the fastest timings all the way till Leg 5 at the end of which he had built up an insurmountable 26 min 20 sec lead over second placed Sanket who, as per the official results, was 10 min 35 sec ahead of third placed Harprit Singh Bawa and a good 18 min 26 sec ahead of fourth placed Capt Amrinder S Brar, who eventually ended up in second place.
Finding himself far behind Rana and much ahead of the rest of the competition, Sanket too had started conserving his T2 category gypsy after Leg 4 by which time the official results had declared him 13 min 31 sec ahead of Bawa and 20 min 43 sec ahead of Maj Shakti Bajaj and 23 min 36 sec ahead of Capt Brar. At the end of the last competitive stage on October 8 Sanket was comfortably placed 26 min 26 sec behind Rana but 7 min 19 sec ahead of Bawa and 10 min 29 sec ahead of Capt Brar.
However, Sanket was in for a rude shock on the morning of 9th October when he came to take the start for the final transport back from Kargil to Leh. As per the ‘corrected’ results he was now 22 min 47 sec behind Rana but also 9 min 01 sec behind Capt Brar, 3 min 22 sec behind Bawa and 2 min 47 sec behind Anil Wadia. From second overall he had dropped to fifth overnight. The organizers attributed the change due to correction of an error made between Leg 3 and Leg 4, which was discovered only on the last day.