The 17th edition of the Raid de Himalaya, the world’s highest altitude and one of the most challenging motorsport rallies, was ceremoniously flagged off on Saturday.
The rally started in the wee hours of Sunday.  The rallyists will be travelling to Manali before proceeding to Dalhousie, Srinagar and Rangdum in the upcoming one week, with night halts at these extremely cold places in the rocky Himalayas.
Sunday’s route from Shimla to Manali included three competitive stages and passed through high-altitude towns of Kufri, Theog, Matiyana, Dalog, Chamola, Luhri, Behna, Shuad, Khanag, Banjar, Aut and Kullu, covering a total distance of 310 km and a competitive distance of 74.34 km.
In his Grand Vitara, Suresh Rana negotiated the challenging tracks to lead the pack in the Xtreme category (4×4) clocking 1:45:48 followed closely by Raj Singh Rathore (1:47:12) in second place. Harpreet Bawa, meanwhile, finished third clocking 1:48:00.
Among the bikers, Bengaluru’s Arvind K.P., riding his TVS RTR 450, ended Day 1 as the leader with an overall time score of 1:39:10 followed by Natraj R. who clocked 1:40:30 and Ashish Saurabh 1:41:22.
The 6-day event will cover a total distance of 1,921 km and a competitive distance of 611 km, travelling through some of the most picturesque and peaceful locations in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.
Called the Raid by motorsport aficionados, the event has had the highest number of entries this year. A total of 167 participants will be roughing it out on the flaky, rough and uncertain Himalayan roads under extreme weather conditions, each hoping to grab pole position.
Out of the 167 entries, 57 have registered under Xtreme Motorcycles, 41 in Xtreme four wheelers, 50 in Adventure and 19 in Alpine, who are first time bikers and whose race will last only for the first three days.
The rally has been organised in association with Himalayan Motorsport.
“Raid de Himalaya 2015 promises to be tougher and meaner this time with high uncertainties and enthralling driving,” Himalayan Motorsport president Vijay Parmar said.
“As early onset of winter is predicted in the western Himalayan region, participants may actually face snow and icy winds, mercury falling to 15 degree Celsius below zero at places.”
The Raid will be run in compliance with the International Sporting Code of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), National Competition Rules (NCR) and General Prescriptions of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI).

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