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What’s in store for riders and drivers at the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya, the world’s highest rally

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As you read this, Team MotorScribes will be somewhere up there in the Himalayas, trying to find the best vantage points along a 1,700-kilometre route for photographs and video snippets from the world’s highest rally. Held at an elevation of 17,500 feet (5,334 metres) and with the mercury dropping to a chilling 15°C, the Raid De Himalaya is no cake walk.

After one entire day spent in scrutiny of the vehicles taking on the course, the rally was flagged off yesterday on October 8. After making its way through Kaza, Sarchu and Leh, it will conclude at Manali after seven days, on October 15.

Raid De Himalaya vehicles 2016
Extreme machines like this Polaris RZR will be taking on the Raid

 

The rally is divided into two categories – Xtreme and Adventure. While the Adventure category for cars is conducted just like any other Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) rally, albeit in the trying terrain of the Himalayas, it’s the Xtreme category that is a true test of both man and machine. Cars and bikes in this class compete for the coveted Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya trophy. Out of a total of 155 teams participating, 108 are competing in this challenging category – 79 bikes and 29 cars.

Suresh Rana rally driver Raid De Himalaya
One of the most formidable drivers to watch out for is nine-time Raid winner Suresh Rana (extreme right), also known as Manali-Man

 

13 out of the 240 participant are women rallyists. But the formidable drivers to watch out for are nine-time Raid winner Suresh Rana, also known as Manali-Man in the motorsport circles; Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare 2016 runners-up Sandeep Sharma; and Bani Yadav who has won titles in Autocross and at previous editions of the Raid-de-Himalaya and the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm.

Women motorcyclists Royal Enfield Himalayan
We spotted a few Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycles at the flag off to the Raid De Himalaya

 

The Raid has been organised by title sponsors Maruti Suzuki, in collaboration with the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) and Himalayan Motorsport. In fact, 20 Maruti Suzuki employees are going to be participating in the Raid. Another important contender from the Indian car maker will be the recently launched Maruti Suzuki Vitarra Brezza. It may not be a 4×4 in the strictest sense, but the crossover has managed to prove its mettle at several TSD rallies across the country. Amidst the Maruti Suzukis and Royal Enfields, we also spotted some interesting machinery like these two Yezdi motorcycles, which Pune riders, Nitin and Mandar will be riding at the Raid.

Vintage Indian motorcycles Yezdi
The 1978 and 1979 Yezdi motorcycles which Pune riders, Nitin and Mandar will be riding at the Raid

 

Customised Maruti Gypsy off-roading 4x4
This souped-up Maruti Gypsy, driven by Lt Pushpendra Singh, will be one of the many Indian Army entries in the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya

 

We’ll be reporting from the Raid, daily. You can follow our Twitter account @MotorScribesInd to stay updated!

Lead image: Maruti Suzuki
Other images: Manu Gour

 

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