Saturday, September 30, 2000

The Raid is Back
By H.Kishie Singh

RAID de Himalaya, one of the most exciting motor sport events, is back again. Described as India’s toughest motor sport event, it will be held in Himachal and Ladakh from September 30 to October 8.

The raid, as opposed to a rally, runs through stark and hostile terrain and provides the competitor longer competitive stages spread out over eight days. It is the ultimate off-road adventure!

After the flag-off from Shimla, the first leg will cover the run to Manali over the Jalori Pass, while leg two will be over Rohtang and Kunzum La at 16,000 feet. This distance provides one of the longest competitive stages, 134 km of off the roadbed route from Gramphoo to Kaza.


THE RAID IS BACKLeg three will be the previous day’s stage done in reverse. Reverse direction that is, and not reverse gear. Last year there was some confusion about what ‘reverse’ meant. This year it will mean going back to Manali and enjoying a comfy bed and hot bath!

Leg four will cover Manali-Pang. Darcha to Pang will be a competitive stage and this will take the competitors over the Bara Lacha Pass at 16,000 feet. The Bara Lacha La has earned itself a deadly reputation by the local nomads who refer to it as "The Pass of the Dead!"

The night halt will be on the windswept plains of Pang. It will be difficult to service vehicles there as the strong winds whip up fine dust into the machinery and men’s eyes, making work difficult. Moreover, being at 14,000 feet also has its effect!

Service vehicles will be in for some long hard drives, as they have to keep ahead of the competitors.

The event will cross the Lacha Lang La and drop down to Pang through the Kangla fall gorge.

The final leg will include a 150-km competitive stageAfter an overnight halt in Pang, the raid will head for Thatsang Karu. There will be a ‘mass start’ for the vehicles. Twenty or more vehicles could be mudguard to mudguard and for the next 20 km across the Morey Plains, it could be a free-for-all and pedal-to-metal! A chance to go flat out. Again a first for a motor sport event in India, since the usual format is flag-off at one-minute intervals.

There will be a re-group at Thatsang Karu. This drive will be the string in the tail!

The raid will go across a salt lake, dry riverbeds and the Puga sulphur springs from where yellow jets of sulphur water shoot into the air, creating a surrealistic effect.

The lake of Tso Morari, visible from Thatsang Karu, is like a jewel that stands out in this stark land. This pearl-shaped lake is the remnant of a once inland sea. It is now 14,000 feet above sea level.

After the re-group, the participants will return to Pang to spend the night under canvas. Those not used extreme cold, must make sure they have a warm sleeping bag and a brand new, fully charged battery for the car. Starting the car at sub-zero temperature, can be hard on the engine. Starved of oxygen, combustion can be sluggish.

The event is open to bikes as wellThe final leg six will cover Pang-Manali. This will include a 150-km competitive stage. The event will terminate at Manali. Again this will mean a hot bath and a warm bed! Luxury! And victory for everyone who made it home!

Without a doubt this event will be both spectacular and demanding. It is likely to turn out to be one of the most exciting and enjoyable events the world has had to offer.

For the comp etitors, the service crew, the organisers, the spouses, the media this will be an opportunity to be on the "top" of the world.

The post-event scrutiny, prize distribution and the Victory Ball will be held at Holiday Inn, Manali.

The four-wheeler section, a national event, will be run under the NCR (National Competition Rules). The two-wheeler event, an international event, has been sanctioned by the FIM (Federation Internationale de Motory Cycle) in Geneva. Two entries have been received and they will be riding Enfield 500s.

By all measures, this is a mega- event. It will cost about Rs 30 lakh or more! Maruti Udyog is the main sponsor, while Indian Oil and Kufri Holiday Resorts are co-sponsors. Kufri Holiday Resorts has reserved 80 rooms for the organisers. The flag-off on October 1 will be from the picturesque Kufri Holiday Resorts which offers a panoramic view of the Dhauladhars.

The event has been made possible with the cooperation of the Army in Ladakh, while the Department of Youth Services, H.P, and J.K. Tourism have lent their services too.

The event is open to bikes, cars and trucks not exceeding 3500 cc engine capacity. More information can be had from: