Ace rallyist Suresh Rana captured the 13th edition of the Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalaya, one of the world’s toughest off-road motor rallies, for the seventh time in the four-wheeler X-treme category, organisers said on Monday.
In the bike X-treme category, Helmut Frauwallner of Austria took the honours, becoming the first foreign rallyist to win the ‘Raid’.
"Suresh Rana and Helmut Frauwallner won the rally in the X-treme four-wheeler and two-wheeler category respectively," Manjeev Bhalla of the Himalayan Motorsport Association, the Shimla-based club that annually organises the rally, told IANS from Srinagar.
The 1,950-km-long cross-country motor race, comprising transport and competitive sections, was flagged off here on Oct 11 and concluded in Srinagar Sunday night.
In the four-wheeler X-treme category, Suresh Rana and his navigator Ashwin Naik completed the rally with a penalty time of 12.41.22.
Harpreet Bawa and navigator Virender Kashyap, with a total penalty time of 12.47.24, were second, while Shakti Bajaj and navigator BN Prakash finished third with a penalty time of 12.48.20.
Interestingly, all the three top motorists were on a Maruti Gypsy.
"My luck favoured me a lot," said an elated Rana, who hails from Manali. "Of course, my vehicle proved its worthiness again in inhospitable cold terrain. I really enjoyed the rally.”
Winner of last two ‘Raids’ in the two-wheeler category, Ashish Moudhgil finished second with a penalty time of 10.39.47. He was on a Yamaha WR-450. He finished behind Frauwallner who logged a penalty time of 10.28.23 on his Husqvarna TE 449.
The third position in the category was also won by another Austrian Gottfried Lehner (11.50.59). He was on a KTM 690 Enduro.
Thirty-nine vehicles were in the fray in the X-treme category, including 23 four-wheelers.
In the adventure trial category, Umesh Raheja and Yogesh Raheja were first, while Anil Satoskar and MK Musthafa and N Shreedhar Urs and K Prasad were second and third respectively.
Anurag Breja, the only paraplegic motorist in the adventure category, completed the race. A spinal cord tumour has left Breja paralysed below the waist since 2002.
In the extreme category, the participants negotiated 11 mountain passes at altitudes of more than 10,000 feet, including the 18,300-ft Khardung La, the highest, in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
The Raid-de-Himalaya is the only Asian motor sport event listed in the off-road rallies calendar of the Switzerland-based FIM (Federation Internationale Motorcyclisme), which captures the attention of the international rallying circuit.