Shimla: Top seed and nine time Raid winner Suresh Rana with navigator Parminder Thakur driving a Maruti Suzuki Grant Vitara as part of Team Maruti failed to negotiate a fairly sharp turn on Day 5 and crashed out the 16th Raid De Himalaya today.
Another ace Raid rallyist Abhishek Mishra and navigator Hanumant Singh also driving a Maruti Suzuki Grant Vitara for Team Thunderbolt also fell victim to the same rogue turn on the way to Nakee La, a 4750 meter high mountain pass, and by end of the day was out of the competition.
Driving at high speed, both vehicles went off the road and landed at a lower patch.
Top lead Suresh Rana’s vehicle misjudging a turn and going off the road – Video Credit: Ashwin Naik
No one was injured in the mishaps, a spokesperson for the organizers said.
With top seeds falling by the wayside, the drama has heightened as the Raid is open for having a new winner this year.
With snow at Kunzam La having washed out Day Four of the intensely competed adventure motorsport, the Raid Xtreme on Day Five took off from Sarchu today for Nakee La.
The three competitive stages from Sarchu to Nakee La, Debring to Daat and back from Daat to Debring were held as per schedule today, said Manjeev Bhalla, spokesperson of Himalayan Motorsport Association – the organization that conducts the event.
Before crashing out, Rana was ahead of Mishra by 7 minutes and of Capt AVS Gill of Team Army by 20 minutes.
With the top seeds out, there are seven competitors within a nine-minute gap, all running close to each other competing out in the highest lands on earth for the coveted Raid winner title.
The rallyists engaged in a close contest in Raid Xtreme (4X4) are Capt AVS Gill, Harpreet Singh Bawa, Amartej Buwal, Lt Col Shakti Bajaj, Gaurav Angra, Raj Singh Rathore and Karan Jung.
“It will be interesting to see who is best among equals,” said Manohar Bhat, Vice President, Maruti Suzuki, the main sponsor of the event.
Day Five also proved to be a bad one for Bollywood showman Sohail Khan, who took a wrong turn on the competitive stage towards Baralacha La, the mountain pass that connects Lahaul and Ladakh.
Sohail going off-track cost him a check-point and loss of valuable time, which is bound to impact overall score in Raid Adventure cagtegory.
Raid Adventure too had a normal run today from Keylong to Baralacha La, forward to Nakee La, and back to Keylong after taking a U-turn at Sarchu. The stages were long today, and the results were still being complied till late evening.
The 16th Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya, which had started from Shimla on October 5, will finish at Manali on October 10 after a marathon six-day run over 2,200 kilometers approximately.