The 20th edition of the iconic Raid de Himalaya got underway at Leh on Wednesday, with the country’s leading rallying motorists lining up to battle for the top honour in Indian motor sports.
Raid winner of 2015 Lhakpa Tsering of Arunachal Pradesh, is among the over 230 competitors in the fray, including 31 teams in the Xtreme cars and trucks category, 37 teams in the Xtreme motorcycles and quads, 12 bikers in the Alpine two-wheeler category, and 31 teams in the Adventure Trail.
Interestingly, the main contenders have all opted for different vehicles which all require different skill sets.
Lhakpa Tsering and co-driver Venu Rameshkumar will be driving in a Polaris RZR 1000 Turbo Dynamix.
The riders will be required to show their mettle and fight with each in the highest reaches of the Himalayas, passing through dangerous roads in the sectors of Kargil, Zanskar and Ladakh.
Tsering pointed out that it took guts to race at such heights on such difficult roads.
“Rallying is not cricket or tennis where you have 17-18 year olds becoming champions. Competitive high-altitude racing needs maturity, brains and physical fitness, and tremendous grit,” the 45-year-old veteran, who has been in motorsports for 20 years, said.
The first stage of the Raid will take the competitors on the never-before traversed section from Lamayuru, called the Moonland of Ladakh, to Photoksar. They will then hit the newly-upgraded road, which was earlier a mule track, into Zanskar,before crossing Sirisir La at a height of 4805 meters above sea level.