13th Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalayas takes off from Simla

The 13th edition of the annual Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalayas was flagged off amidst huge fervor and excitement from Simla.  Prem Kumar Dhumal, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Himachal Pradesh), flagged off the rally and cheered the participants. Also present at the flag off were Mr. Shashank Srivastava, Chief General Manager, Marketing, Maruti Suzuki, H. Subramanian, Chief General Manager, State Bank of India and Mr Manjeet Bhalla, Vice President, Himalayan Motorsports.

The flag off took place after two days of intense vehicle and participant scrutiny that was held on October 9 and October 10.

The high point of Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya 2011 is customization of rally route in line with experience and expectations of the motorsports enthusiasts. For the first time, two separate routes have been worked out by the organisers to engage with two different types of motorsports enthusiasts.

Explaining the double route format and encouraging the participants, Shashank Srivastava, Chief General Manager, Marketing, Maruti Suzuki, said, “The overwhelming response from motorsports enthusiasts across the country to our various motorsports initiatives like Maruti Suzuki Raid- de-Himalaya, Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm, Dakshin Dare, Auto Cross etc.  encouraged us to do something innovative this year.

We introduced a double route format this year. This modification is in line with the expectations of motorsports enthusiasts especially amateurs, who for many years have been looking for such exciting opportunities. This is just the beginning, we will be happy to look at other formats too.”

He adds, “In addition, motorsports offer us an excellent opportunity to gauge the response of our vehicles under extreme conditions. Our engineers take home valuable feedback from the rallies and pass on the learnings to the upcoming models”.

In its unique format in this year’s event, the X-treme and Adventure category will compete on two separate treacherous and challenging routes initially, but will meet at Rangdum, valley situated 3,657 m (11,998 ft) above the sea level, in the isolated Suru valley in Ladakh region. (Jammu and Kashmir). After Rangdum the two category participants will continue together via Penzi-La till the final stop at Srinagar, J&K.

With this new double-route format, this year’s Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalaya has seen an increase in participation by 5% over last year. (291 now v/s 277 in 2010)

The route for the X-treme Category shall start off from Shimla on the 11th Oct and traverse through the districts of Mandi and Kullu and halt at Manali. From Manali, the motorists will proceed through the mighty Rohtang Pass to halt at Leh on October 12. Next day, the raid will pass through Leh including the 18,300-foot Khardung-La, the highest Motorable road in the world and cover Kargil, Rangdum and Penzi-La to conclude in Srinagar on October 16. The motorcyclists too follow this tough Alpine route and terminate at Leh.

The route for the Adventure Trial also starts from Shimla and then passes through Mandi, Kullu, Kangra, Chamba, and to enter Jammu and Kashmir through Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Kokernag and Ananatnag. From here it would go to Kargil, Rangdum, Dras, Kargil, Zozi-La and culminate in Srinagar on October 16.

This year the rally will cover a distance of 2000 kms in 6 legs spread over 6 days will make its participants undertake a treacherous route through various crests & troughs embedded in the great western Himalayan ranges.

Participation from across the country

This year’s event will see around 115 participants from the Northern parts of the country and 33 participants from southern India. 40 participants from western India and 12 from Eastern India complete the rally entourage. These motorsport enthusiasts will compete across three categories: X-treme 4-wheelers (46 teams), X-treme 2-wheelers (35 teams) (both for professional motorsport enthusiasts), and 76 enthusiast teams in the Adventure Trial category for amateurs.

Three separate versions based on skills

Xtreme: This version is the toughest of the lot and is open only to those 4-wheeler drivers who have prior rallying experience and have competed in one of the earlier editions of the Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalaya or Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm. There are 46 teams participating in Xtreme 4-wheeler category in this year’s Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalaya.

Adventure Trial: This version will run on a different route and is open to those motorsport enthusiasts, who would like to take on the Himalayas but without the tough competition, difficulty and stress involved in the Xtreme. This section will be open only to stock cars and SUVs and only certain safety-related modifications will be allowed in the competing cars. In this year’s event 76 teams are competing in Adventure Trial category.

Bikes Xtreme: This section is open to bikes of all types and makes but there are certain regulations that the bikers will have to adhere to. Participants in this category are probably the bravest of the raiders, as they have to face the hostile weather and tough terrains without the comforts of a cabin surrounding them. The 13th Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalaya, will have 35 biker participants.

The 13th edition of the Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalaya is being organized under the aegis of Himalayan Motorsport Association. State Bank of India has also made a significant contribution towards organizing the event. This toughest motoring event in the country is being supported by the Indian Army.