TVS Racing retain the Xtreme Moto title yet again in the 2017 Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya
News from the Raid-de-Himalaya and the Oilibya rally
SOME OF US DON’T LIKE the feeling of being alone, even in our own houses. It scares us; the night especially. Encountering the unknown isn’t always the most pleasant of things. Imagine then, that some of us decided to willingly supplant ourselves from our cosy homes into one of the most inhospitable places on earth – the Himalayas.
Whenever the Himalayas are mentioned, idyllic images of snowcapped mountains are summoned almost immediately, and you fall prey to an unhealthy amount of day dreaming. So, I was understandably thrilled when I set out to cover the 19th edition of the Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya.
But quickly enough, all notions about this being a walk in the park were put to rest, when the first leg of the Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya got underway. It took us from beautiful Manali to Gramphoo where the first competitive stage was slated to begin. The drive from Manali to Gramphoo took us through some of the most desolate regions on the entire trip. And as would eventually be the norm across all stages; competitors, organisers, service crews and the media left in the dead of night and reached Gramphoo before dawn.
The first competitive stage got underway soon after and in the X-treme Cars category, Suresh Rana and PVS Murthy in their Grand Vitara from Maruti Suzuki Motorsports did what they have always been doing well. An 8-minute lead was taken at the end of stage one with Razdan Sanjay and Aukta Karan following in their Gypsy and Sanjay Agarwal and Smitha N in their Grand Vitara closing out the top three.
With his experience of winning the rally a record 10 times, Rana ensured that he kept on building a lead over every stage, subsequently pushing the other competitors out of contention.
The second day saw an incredibly tough stretch to negotiate from Gramphoo to Kaza with close to 50 per cent of the competition being eliminated due to the extremely rough terrain.
By the end of the third day, the lead was a healthy 26 minutes and Rana was firmly in the driver’s seat both literally and figuratively. From thereon, it was an uphill battle against all odds for the competitors.
Now with most of the competition, either eliminated or non-threateningly away, the race leaders looked to conserve their cars and still set a decent pace. They did both exceedingly well, going on to clinch their 11th Raid-deHimalaya title. Sanjay Razdan and Karan Aukta eventually finished 50:57 minutes behind followed by Sanjay Agarwal and Smitha N, trailing by over an hour. Commenting on the win, Rana said, “Winning Raid de Himalaya is always rewarding and boosts my morale every year. This is my 11th win and yet the thrill and joy is just like my first. To breakthrough in these extreme weather conditions, along with driver