Its woman power at the highest motorsport rally of the world – The 15th Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya.
The Raid will run from October 4 to 12. In its 15th year, the Raid has many ‘firsts’ to scale high on woman power.
Sheetal Bidaye of Mumbai is the first Indian woman biker to compete in Raid Xtreme. This is an all-out speed category.
In addition, Raid 2013 has the first women officers team from the Army. The team comprises Maj Smitha of ASC and Capt Madhavi Singh of EME. Maj Smitha and Capt Madhavi are driving a Maruti Gypsy to aim for the top spot in Raid Adventure. This category follows the Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) format.
Raid 2013 also has the first woman cop competing for the top spot – Constable Richa of Himachal Police. Richa, who is posted at Shimla, will compete in a Maruti Gypsy. She is in the Raid Adventure category.
In another first, Kalyani Potekar, a 20-year-old student from Fergusson College, Pune, will compete in Raid Xtreme (Alpine). This is the category for amateur bikers.
The longest-running woman rallyist of the country, Shuchi Thakur of Dharamshala, is among the motorsport champions competing at the 15th Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya. Shuchi will compete in Raid Xtreme, and will race for the top spot driving her Maruti Gypsy. This is Shuchi’s ninth Raid.
What these women rallyists have set out to achieve is no mean feat. The Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya is ranked among the top ten toughest motorsport events of the world. Competitors will race to some of the highest mountain passes in the world like Khardung La and Wari La.
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. Raid 2013 will boast of 45 teams in Raid Xtreme (4×4) and over 45 competitors 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). The Raid showcases our commitment towards youth empowerment and women empowerment,” he said.
Raid is among top ten toughest rallies of the world
The Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya began in 1999. It is held annually in October on the highest altitudes and difficult terrains of Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Leh.
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 competitors at the Raid will race to Khardung La, at an elevation of 5,602 meters (18,379 feet), and the Wari La, at an elevation of 5,250 meters (17,300 feet) above sea level in Ladakh.
The Raid will begin from Shimla and traverse the difficult stretches of Kaza and the Monastery Necklace, Khardung La and Wari La, and the temperamental Nubra Valley. It will draw to a close at Leh.
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.