Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Drivers geared up for Himalayan rally

A dream that took shape in the year 1999 has come a long way as the raiders celebrate the 10th edition this year. From 19 teams since its inception, the rally this year has 150 teams in the fray. Over 250 motorsport freaks will be traversing the length and breadth of 11 of the world's highest motorable roads and passes in the western Himalayas.

The rally will run in three separate versions: Xtreme, Adventure Trial and Bikes Xtreme. These events will cover over 2400 kms spread over 8 legs in 8 days. The raiders will negotiate their way through the cavities and crevices of some of the most inhospitable terrains, like the Tanglang La (second highest motorable pass in the world), Jalori Pass and the Rohtang Pass. Kunzum La, Baralacha La and Panzi La are also part of this year's endurance test.

Tying up the loose-ends and loopholes for this edition of the Raid has been the most difficult for the organisers. The adverse weather condition in these areas for the past few weeks has been hindering the preparations. But, the man behind the Raid and president of the Himalayan Motorsports Association, Vijay Parmar, has left no stone unturned.

Six months of hard work and preparation has been marred by incessant snow and land slides over the area, but the spirit of motoring enthusiasts and Parmar's commitment as always, has made it possible this time around as well.

"At a time when people are trying to get out of the area, we are paying to get in", said Parmar to Mobile ESPN. With participants covering a distance of 300 kms a day on an average, and managing the serpentine high narrow mountain roads, the Raid is not for the faint hearted. However, Parmar & Co. have insured that safety remains the topmost concern.

Special training has been given to drivers so that that immediate first-aid can be given in case of an accident or crash. Helevac (Helicopter Evacuation) have also been stationed at various points of stages of each leg.

With temperatures plunging as low as minus-20 degrees Celsius, drivers have a piece of advice from Parmar, "It's not about speed, but endurance in the face of nature".

Changing gears to Formula One, Parmar is all for the Indian Grand Prix in 2011 and hails liquor baron and Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya's efforts of promoting the international sport in India.

" I think Vijay has done a great job. It doesn't matter whether the team wins or loses, just the fact that an Indian team is rubbing tyres at an international level, shows the potential of Mallya and his money."

Parmar adds: "The Indian Grand Prix is something that we are all looking forward to and it will definitely be a shot in the arm for the Indian tourism. I think it's something that should happen and I guess even if Mallya can't do it, his bucks can!"

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