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Sponsored feature: The world’s best arena

2nd Sep 2015 3:15 pm

Sponsored feature: Experience the thrill of motorsport. Experience the Raid de Himalaya.

The lowest temperature the racers are likely to face.

18,000 feet
An altitude all racers will cross.

9 days
The number of days the Raid de Himalaya will run.

300 km
The average distance racers cover per day.

The number of people involved in one Raid de Himalaya.


The ultimate test
It is an unforgiving battleground. Motorsport is not for the weak-hearted. It pushes man and machine to lengths no sane person would probably be willing to accept. Imagine being constantly on the edge. Imagine pushing the limits of what your body can take. Imagine testing the laws of physics and discovering how far you and your machine can really go. Imagine all of that happening at the same time. It is a little bit like madness. But then again, there’s very little that can make you feel as alive as being in a car that’s hurtling across mountains, rivers, through canyons, forests and any other place cars aren’t normally driven through. On the edge of control. High on adrenaline. It is like nothing else. Today, Maruti Suzuki Motorsport offers you the opportunity to do all of that. 

Maruti Suzuki believes in making motorsport accessible to everyone. To this end, it has been actively promoting motorsport in the country for over a decade. It has packed the year with a number of races across the country to get more and more people to participate in it. And that’s the point. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional racer, amateur racer or simply a motorsport enthusiast, anyone can race in Maruti Suzuki Motorsport. Sounds like a dream come true, right?

Ever dreamt of racing in the Himalayas?
It’s possible. Every year, for the past 16 years, Maruti Suzuki Motorsport has been organising an amazing rally raid called the Raid de Himalaya. Here’s what you need to know about it. It is the highest rally raid in the world. It has been on the FIA and FIM calendar for 16 consecutive years. It is an extreme endurance event held at an altitude with very little air to breathe. Temperatures have been known to drop to -20°C! It is a rally that has the words ‘certifiable insanity’ in its official list of requirements. And every year, there are more and more people participating in it. Just last year, there were almost 300 participants. Even more are expected this year.

How does it work?
On a scale of 1 to 10, one being a walk in the park and 10 being mission impossible, the Raid de Himalaya rates a raging 9. The Raid de Himalaya is divided into three broad categories – 4x4 X-treme, Moto Quads and Adventure Trial.

The 4x4 X-treme is for the certifiable nutjobs. It is for the sort of people who can’t understand the concept of defeat. To participate in the 4x4 X-treme category, you need a completely modified 4x4 or moto-quad, a high level of physical fitness, a full rally licence, previous rally experience (though certain first-timers are allowed if the authorities deem them fit) and a lot of money.  

The Moto Quads category is open to completely modified motorcycles and quad bikes. Racing in this category will be harder as you will be even more exposed to the elements than those in cars. It will get very cold, the roads and air will be icy, and riding at high speeds through these conditions is not for everyone. You see now, why insanity is a requirement for this event.

The third category, though, is where it gets interesting for everyone. And this means everyone. This is the Adventure Trial. It is like an extreme rally school. It’s not easy, but on that one to ten scale, it measures a relatively mellow six. All you need is a standard car or an SUV, a high level of physical fitness, creative and clear thinking ability, an accurate understanding of your capabilities and some money. The most important thing, though, is a never-give-up attitude. Also very helpful is the ability to laugh at yourself. You will put yourself in many many situations where that will come handy. One attempt at this rally will definitely change you, your life and your perspective on many things. It is as much a journey through the mightiest mountains in the world as it’s into your own mind and soul. The Himalayas are well known for that.

Join the Adventure
The Adventure Trial, this year, will run from 9th – 17th October 2015, including both dates.

Who can participate?
Anyone. In fact, the Adventure Trial is the recommended rally for first-timers. If you really have a thirst for adventure, this is the ride of a lifetime. Not to mention that you’ll have raced through the Himalayas. Those are serious bragging rights. To participate, you need a regular, valid driving licence and obtain a competition driving licence from the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI). This must be done before October 4th, 2015, if you intend to participate this year. You’ll also need your doctor to declare you physically fit to participate. You will, after all, be traversing terrain above 18,000 feet from time to time, in addition to spending at least two days above 15,000feet. At those altitudes, oxygen is limited.

How much does it cost?
Definitely not as much as you think. All the details about entry fees, insurances, vehicle preparation, service backup, recce expenses and raid running expenses are mentioned in detail on the Raid de Himalaya website (raid-de-himalaya.com).  

What will I eat?
Food and accommodation are arranged by the organisers and are included in the entry fee. They even make provisions for what can be done if you drop out in the middle of the rally leg (rally term for day). 

How do I prepare?
This is a two-fold plan. One part involves vehicle preparation. The second is medical preparation.

Getting your vehicle ready
You start by choosing a vehicle. Since this is primarily an off-road event, choose one with decent ground clearance, 4x4 capability and the capacity to take a solid thrashing for at least a week. Then you need to make them ‘raid-worthy’ and meet internationally acceptable safety standards. All cars or trucks need to be equipped with a roll cage, four-point seat belts, electrical cut-out switch on the vehicle’s exterior, fire extinguishers and all crew members are required to wear helmets.

Getting yourself ready
The Raid’s highly experienced medical team issues health notes in the run up to the event. The lists help you prepare for everything, tell you what to carry. All of these must be followed since you may have to battle everything from high altitude sickness to sunburn.

The Raid office team can help first-timers with everything from choosing a vehicle, to preparing it, personal preparation, recce plans and medical advice. The Raid office stands ready to back you up with whatever you need. All you need to do is write to them at info@raid-de-himalaya.com. All details, once again, are available at the Raid de Himalaya website.

It is recommended that the FAQ section of the website be read and understood thoroughly to be prepared for everything including their policies to minimise impact on the environment. This is responsible racing.

What is it like?
Incredible! What you can expect is thorough professionalism from everyone involved in this rally. Motorsport is dangerous and therefore, the safety protocols are extremely strict. So far, the organisers have maintained an excellent record. So, when you show up you’ll have the time of your life, but you will be in safe hands.

If you have even a slight taste for adventure and want to find out how much you can endure, how mentally and physically strong you are, this is something you absolutely must do. It is the journey of a lifetime and it will change your life. Leave the jokes about insanity aside and take in the fact that more and more people participate in this rally every year. It is possible. It is within reach. And it is absolutely, completely and totally mind-blowing. What are you waiting for? It’s time to race.

Copyright (c) Autocar India. All rights reserved.

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