Shimla, September 24
Richa Sharma, a constable with Himachal Police, is the first woman cop of the country to be part of the world’s highest motorsport event, the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya.
The Raid will run from October 4 to 12.
Richa is a skilled driver and has been appreciated by Himachal Police for her professional excellence. Richa was nominated by Himachal Police to be part of The 15th Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya. She will participate in the event with Munish Mehta, a fellow constable.
Richa, 25, is currently posted at the Police Headquarters in Shimla. “I am very excited about going for the Raid. This is the first time that a team from Himachal Police is going for the Raid De Himalaya, and I am very happy that my department gave me this opportunity,” she said. Richa had joined Himachal Police in 2008.
Richa and Munish are participating in Raid Adventure, which follows the Time-Speed-Distance format. They will drive a Maruti Gypsy at the Raid.
What these women have set out to achieve is no mean feat. The Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya is the world’s highest motorsport event. Competitors will race to some of the highest mountain passes in the world like Khardung La and Wari La.
Three Categories At The Raid
There are three competitive categories at the 15th Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya. These are Raid Xtreme (4X4 vehicles), Raid Xtreme (Motorcycles and Quads) and Raid Adventure.
Raid Xtreme is all about a high speed rush for both four-wheelers and motorcycles. Raid Adventure follows the Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) format.
Only woman in Raid Xtreme is from Dharamshala
The only woman who is competing in Raid Xtreme is Shuchi Thakur of Dharamshala. There are a total of about 35 teams in Raid Xtreme. Each team comprises a driver and a navigator. Shuchi will drive a Maruti Gypsy at the Raid.
Shuchi is the longest-running woman rallyist of the country. This is her ninth Raid. Shuchi is currently working and living at Mumbai.
Chandigarh’s Vaneeta Kang competing in Raid Adventure
Another woman competitor from the region at The 15th Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya is Vaneeta Kang of Chandigarh. Vaneeta is the marketing head of a leading Chandigarh-based financial company with multi-national operations. Vaneeta says motorsport has always fascinated her. “I have done the Leh-Ladakh trail on my personal holidays. For years, I wanted to compete at the Raid, and it is now a dream come true for me,” she said. Her navigator is Cheshta Sood from Delhi.
The Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya is considered as one of the most challenging motorsport events globally. This is the 15th year of the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya. The event was first held in 1999. It is held annually in October each year on the highest altitudes and difficult terrains of Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Leh.
Highest number of entries for the 15th Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya
According to Mr Manohar Bhat, Vice President Marketing of Maruti Suzuki, this year the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya has the maximum number of competitors in each category. This year, the Raid will boast of 45 teams in Raid Xtreme (4×4) and over 45 in Raid Xtreme (Motorcycles and Motoquads). Raid Adventure towers the charts, with 70 teams of speed lovers from all corners of the country.
Mr Bhat said that in the last 15 years, this amazing Himalayan challenge has grown exponentially in stature and difficulty. “It is the only Indian motorsport event listed on the off-road rallies calendar of FIA (Federation Internationale Automobile). Our association with the Raid showcases our vision and our commitment to automobile excellence in the country and globally,” he said.
This year, the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya 2013 will take on two of the highest mountain passes in the world this year – the Khardung La and the Wari La.
The Raid De Himalaya is the only motorsport event which boasts of rallying at the highest altitude in the world – 6,000 meters above sea level. Level of competition is against the mighty Himalayas and the tough weather conditions is so stiff that only about 25 per cent of all competitors are able to successfully reach the finish line.
The Raid is organized by the premier Shimla-based motorsport club, Himalayan Motorsport. Mr Vijay Parmar, President of Himalayan Motorsport, said the Wari La is going to be a highly exacting challenge for the Raiders.
“The Wari La climb happens in 14 kilometers, while the Khardung La climb takes 32 kilometers. The descent is equally steep and rapid into the Nubra Valley. The challenge of the Raid lies in competitive driving at these impossible altitudes, which demand the best from both man and machine,” said Mr Parmar.