The cross-country motor race that combines transport and competitive sections will be conducted in two categories, X-treme and adventure, said Vijay Parmar, president Himalayan Motorsport, the association which has been conducting the Raid for the past 12 years. More than 150 teams are expected to participate, which include Team Thunderbolt, Team Eagle Motorsport, Team Army Adventure Wing, Team Air Force and Team Maruti in the X-treme category.
Teams from Tata Motors, Mahindra and Maruti are all set to battle out the most predominant adventure class. A paraplegic competitor, Anurag Bareja from Gurgaon, would be competing for the first time in this year’s Raid. His participation will be at par with other competitors in a modified hand-controlled car, said Parmar.
Veteran 5-times winner Suresh Rana from Thunderbolt, last year’s winner Major Arminder Brar and well known driver Sunny Sidhu would be racing against each other yet again. In the motorcycle category, Team Contiger Austria would be fielding 5 motorcycles and would also have Rajeev Khanna, a veteran of Himalayan Rally fame, as a participant.
The first leg for the X-treme category would traverse through Shimla, Mandi and Kullu with a night stopover at Manali. The second leg would cross over the mighty Rohtang with a long drive added to halt at Leh. Then on the Raid would cover several routes in Leh including the 18,300 feet, Khardung-La, the highest motorable road in the world, pass through Kargil, Rangdum, Penzi-La and would conclude at Srinagar on 16th October.
For the Adventure Trial category, the route would pass through the districts of Shimla, Mandi, Kullu, Kangra, Chamba, and would enter Jammu & Kashmir through Bhaderwah and pass through Kishtwar, Kokernag and Ananatnag. From here it would go through Srinagar, Kargil, Rangdum, Dras, Kargil, Zozi-La and return to conclude at Sringar. Notably, the scenic valley of Spiti would be given a go by the rally drivers this year.
Taking ecological concerns in the stride, the organizers have introduced necessary sound regulations on the analogy of European norms for the Raid this year. Sound emission norms as applicable to rally cars would be strictly enforced using sophisticated sound monitoring equipments.