By : Mohan Verma
The rocky bed and jagged banks of Chandra river in Spiti valley, Himachal Pradesh, forced top rallyists of the country to drop out of the 16th Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya on its second day.
The Raid, a six-day marathon motorsport event, had started from Shimla on the early hours of October 5 and reached Manali for the night halt. The rallyists went to the Manali-Kaza stretch, which is considered among download pictures the most difficult because of the unforgiving terrain.
The champions who could not conquer the Chandra river challenge included Sandeep Sharma of Delhi and Sanjay Agarwal of Bangalore, both top marathon rallyists of the country. Sharma and Agarwal were competing in Raid Xtreme (4X4), an all-out speed format.
Among champion bikers competing in Raid Xtreme (Moto), Chandra river knocked out Mohit Verma of Chandigarh and Arvind KP of Bangalore. Arvind was leading the Raid on Day 1 with an overall time-score of 54.11 minutes, and Mohit was third with a time-score of one hour approximately.
Mr. Manohar Bhat, Vice President (Marketing) of Maruti Suzuki, said that on Day 2, 38 vehicles took the start in Rally Xtreme, and 34 vehicles were able to successfully reach the finish line. In Raid Xtreme (Motorcycles), 37 bikers took a start in the morning, and 30 were able to make it to Kaza at the end of the day.
Nine-time Raid champion Suresh Rana, driving a Grand Vitara, maintained his fantastic lead with a time-score of 2.24.41 minutes. Rana is driving for Team Maruti. Abhishek Mishra of Jaipur was behind Rana by six minutes, with a time-score of 2.30.42 minutes. Mishra is driving a Grand Vitara for Team Thunderbolt. Capt. AVS Gill of Team Army was running third, driving his Maruti Gypsy, with a time-score of 2.35.35 minutes.
Among bikers, Natraj R of Bangalore maintained the top position on Day 2 driving a TVS RTR 450, with a time-score of 2.15.26 hours. Second among bikers was Suresh Babu of Delhi, driving a Suzuki RMX 450Z, with a time-score of 2.34.36 hours. Nick Sarao, an NRI from Canada driving a WR450 was third, with a time-score of 2.41.38 hours.
Raj Singh Rathore of Jaipur lost his fantastic lead of Day 1 after he lost his way today. Rathore, who was behind Rana by only 23 seconds on the first day and was ranking second, dropped to the tenth position on Day 2.
Superstar Salman’s brother Sohail Khan, who is competing in Raid Adventure, was performing well but lost time after he miscalculated a tricky time-check point on the first day of the rally. Sohail was going strong on the second day, and Raid officials said his overall timing may have improved today.
In Raid Adventure, which follows the Time-Speed-Distance format, the top performers on the first day were Subir Roy and navigator Nirav Mehta with a penalty of 27 seconds, Rajesh Chalana and navigator Yogesh Gupta with a penalty of 43 seconds, and defending champion Jagmeet Gill and S. Chandan with a penalty of 55 seconds. The results of Day Two for Raid Adventure had not been compiled at the time of going to press.
The Raid will end at Manali on October 10, after crossing some of the highest mountain passes in the world, including Baralacha La and Shingo La.