For first time, three scooterists in fray at Raid de Himalaya 2018
Leh (Ladakh), October 7: For the first time in the history of the daunting Raid de Himalaya, as many as three scooter riders will race alongside souped-up 4x4 rally cars and powerful motorbikes, hoping to finish on equal terms.
Till now, the humble scooter was championed by a solitary competitor at the Raid: Syed Asif Ali of Bhopal. The indisputable champion of scooter rallying in India has competed in all four editions of the recent past.
This year, he will have company in the form of Shameem Khan and Yash Mohan Pawar, both from Nasik.
All three are supported by Team TVS. They will be competing in the Alpine Moto category on their customised TVS N Torq SXR and will be in seen in action for the three days.
The iconic Raid de Himalaya officially gets under way here on Monday, with the scrutiny of the vehicles. The racing will begin on October 10 and finish on October 14, after traversing through some high-altitude routes in Kargil, Zanskar and Ladakh.
As many as 200 competitors are if fray in various categories in the 20th edition of the Raid, making it one of the biggest rallying events in the country.
“I have always competed against the bikes and cars, and have still held my own. I would laugh when competitors would say, Vo scooter wala Gypsy se bhi aage nikal gaya (The scooter rider has left the Gypsy behind),” Syed Asif Ali said on the eve of the rally.
Many die-hard motorsports buffs have dismissed the chances of the scooter in a macho sport like rallying, especially in the demanding terrains of the Himalayas.
“It’s a huge error,” Asif countered. “In the Indian National Rally Championships (INRC) across the country, the maximum number of competitors are in the scooter category. It is the average middle class youth’s only ticket to adventure. Why scoff at them?” Asif asked.
Asif and his team-mates are aware that this year’s Raid will be particularly tougher, as they are doing some gruelling sections.
Vijay Parmar, President of Himalayan Motorsport, the organisers of the flagship rally of the country’s leading motorsport club, is curious to see how the scooterists perform.
“The new winding high-altitude dirt roads are extremely challenging stages on the worlds’ highest cross-country routes. It is going to be tough for all the competitors,” Parmar said.