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

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