Shimla: Having weathered snowstorms and an earthquake, the 15th edition of Raid-de-Himalaya is all geared to push its way into deep mountain country for a six leg cross country rally starting from here with the flag down at Leh in Ladhak.
“The tentative window for running the Raid, this year is 6th to 11th October,” said Vijay Parmar, president of the Himalayan Motorsport Association club that conducts the adventure motor rallying sport event.
Two days before start are to be used for scrutiny of the vehicles and it will be with bubbling champagne that the victory ceremony would be held on 12th October
Having zeroed down on the route that the high adrenalin sport is to take this year, Manjeev Bhalla, a senior member of club who finalizes the route said that more or less Raid 2013 would take the same route as it did last year.
Spread over 6 days, which includes competitive sections and transport drives, the route is laid out over 1900 Kms and crosses over some of the highest motorable passes in the Himalayas.
Among the early bird entries are veteran rallyist Suresh Rana, Sunny Siddu in the four wheeler Xtreme and Austrian biker Helmut Frauwallner, die hard rallyist from Kalka Ashish Saurabh Moudghil and the racer from Coimbatore Suresh Babu Janarthanan in the two wheel category.
Like each year, besides the two Xtreme categories for four wheelers and two wheeler vehicles, for amateurs and starters to get a feel of what the Raid is all about, the adventure trail competition would also be held alongside the main event.
Till today there were 41 entries made for the motorcycle category, 39 in the Xtreme four wheel category and 57 for the Adventure trail section. Some slots for last minutes entrants were still lying vacant in all categories.
Talking about the event, Parmar added, “in case we get snowed in or hit by earthquake…both distinct possibilities….the rally will bed down for the 2 days it normally takes to clear the mess and restart. Unlike 2004 and 2007 where the rally was cut short, 2013 will see a flexi time event, if needed.
In 2004, the Raid was trapped for 4 days by snow in Lahaul Valley.
In 2005, when the Raid was passing through Kargil, the sector where India and Pakistan forces had witnessed an intense battle over incursions across the line of control in 1999, an earthquake with its epicenter in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir hit the region.
While there was intense damage caused on both sides of the border but the calamity did not stop the Raid in its tracks.
At flag down, the exhausted participants had to live through a night that was frequently jolted by aftershocks.
In 2007, it was a snowstorm that grinded the Raid to a halt in mid-track and the event had to be called off without getting to the finish line. The unseasonal blizzard had dumped 4 to 6 feet of snow at Baralacha La. Rescuing the Raid participants was an adventure in itself.
The Raid de Himalaya is India’s toughest motorsport event. It runs through the most hostile part of the high altitude desert in Spiti, Lahaul, Zanskar and Ladakh. The route is difficult and the pressures upon the participants are extreme.