The 11th annual Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalaya, saw a severe snowstorm at the Baralacha La pass and the tough road conditions scuppered 21 cars and seven bikes during the ongoing rally. After passing through Leh, the rally has now halted at Rangdoum on a scheduled stop.
Of the 79 cars and 15 bikes that had started from Shimla on October 6, only 58 cars and eight bikes were left in the fray. This includes 41 cars in Adventure Trial and the remaining in the Xtreme category.
According to Maruti Suzuki executives who are participating in the rally,the formidable Baralacha La pass was blanketed by 2-3 feet of snow after thestorm. The foresight of making snow-chains mandatory bore tremendous results as organizers, Himalayan Motorsport Association, towed and winched all those vehicles, which were experiencing difficulties dealing with the road conditions.
Leaders of the three categories are five- time champion Suresh Rana, who has built up a healthy lead over his nearest rivals and leads comfortably with cumulative penalties of 1 hour, 48 minutes in the Extreme category. Major A.S.Brar of the Indian Army moved into the runners-up position with 2 hours and 12 mins after Harpreet Bawa, lost a wheel and had to pull out of the event. This also allowed Amartej Buwal from Punjab to step up into third place.
In the Xtreme Bikes category, Ashish Moudgill is leading the competition, hotly pursued by Gurpinder Sarao and Sandeep Matharu.
The Raheja brothers are currently leading the Adventure Trial category.