The fifth day of the 16th Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya, one of the world’s toughest off-road motor rallies that took off from here on October 5, turned out to be unlucky for the legendary nine time winner, Suresh Rana from Manali, as he crashed out.
He was leading the motorsport marathon, until crisis put him out, pushing him and another top rallyist Abhishek Mishra, who was closely following him. Rana, who has won the raid Xtreme (4x4) crown a record nine times, had a stroke of bad luck owing to a wrong turn on the way to Nakee La, a mountain pass at the height of 4,750 meters.
The turn was so sharp that the two top rallyist, Rana and Mishra, could not negotiate it at a high speed. Both the vehicles went-off the road and landed at a lower patch. Rana was driving for team Maruti, while Mishra for team Thunderbolt.
Natraj R of Bangalore, first in Raid Xtreme (motorcycles), narrowly escaped sliding down the same turn and maneuvered it with difficulty.
Fortunately, no rallyist was injured in the mishap. After the misjudgment by the two rallyists, a Raid marshal was stationed at the turn, and the Xtreme competitors coming from behind were told to take the turn safely.
Meanwhile, the day also brought bad luck to Bollywood celebrity Sohail Khan, who went off-track, missed one check-point and lost valuable time after he took a wrong turn on the competitive stage towards Baralacha La, the mountain pass that connects Lahaul and Ladakh. This will severely impact his overall score in Raid adventure.
Maruti Suzuki vice president (marketing) Manohar Bhat said at the end of Day 3, Rana was seven minutes ahead of Mishra, and 20 minutes ahead of Captain AVS Gill of team Army.
“With Rana’s exit, winning Raid Xtreme (4X4) is now anybody’s game. There are seven competitors within a nine-minute gap, all running close to each other. It will be interesting to see who is best among equals,” said Bhat.
The rallyists engaged in a close contest in Raid Xtreme (4X4) are Gill, Harpreet Singh Bawa, Amartej Buwal, Lt Col Shakti Bajaj, Gaurav Angra, Raj Singh Rathore and Karan Jung.
Earlier, Raid Xtreme had been suspended on Day four due to heavy snow at Kunzum La. It, however, took off from Sarchu on Thursday for Nakee La. The three competitive stages from Sarchu to Nakee La, Debring to Daat and back from Daat to Debring were held as per schedule.
Raid adventure too had a normal run from Keylong to Baralacha La, forward to Nakee La, and back to Keylong after taking a U-turn at Sarchu. The stages were long, and the results had not been compiled till the news was last reported.