For the first time in the history of the daunting Raid de Himalaya, as many as three scooter riders will race alongside souped-up 4x4 rally cars and powerful motorbikes, hoping to finish on equal terms. To add to this, Indian rallyists will have a tough fight on their hands in the 20th edition of the Raid de Himalaya, with the advent of a formidable team from the Border Roads Organisation.
Till now, the humble scooter was championed by a solitary competitor at the Raid: Syed Asif Ali of Bhopal. The indisputable champion of scooter rallying in India has competed in all four editions of the recent past. This year, he will have company in the form of Shameem Khan and Yash Mohan Pawar, both from Nasik. All three are supported by Team TVS and will be competing in the Alpine Moto category on their customised TVS NTorq SXR.
The iconic Raid de Himalaya officially gets under way here on Monday, with the scrutiny of the vehicles. The racing will begin on October 10 and finish on October 14, after traversing through some high-altitude routes in Kargil, Zanskar and Ladakh. As many as 200 competitors are in the fray in various categories in the 20th edition of the Raid, making it one of the biggest rallying events in the country.
As mentioned earlier, the Border Roads Organisation team will also be debuting at Raid de Himalaya. Col. Pradeep Sharma of BRO's Project Vijayak at Kargil will lead the team's challenge in a Maruti Gypsy in the Raid Xtreme 4X4 category and will have Lt. Col Sanjay Rathee of Project Hirak from Uttarakhand as his navigator.
The duo will drive for Team DGBR (Director General Border Roads), an organisation within the army that specialises in constructing and maintaining roads in high altitude areas and extreme weather conditions, where few dare to go.
"We are competing in this year's Raid because of the initiative of the Director General Border Roads (DGBR), Lt Gen Harpal Singh. He believed that we can take on the country's best competitors, and challenge them on our own roads, in the toughest category - Raid Xtreme," Col Sharma said.
The iconic Raid de Himalaya officially got underway here on Monday, with the scrutiny of the vehicles. The racing will begin on Wednesday and finish on October 14, after traversing through some of the highest-altitude routes in Kargil, Zanskar and Ladakh.
Revealing the reason for his participation, Col. Sharma said: "We are champions of road construction. We want to face the toughest conditions and get feedback from champion drivers on ways to make our roads even better."