For the ninth time in 15 years of the history of Raid de Himalaya,when Suresh Rana climbed the podium to claim the coveted trophy in the X-treme four-wheeler category,there was a sense of deja vu among the spectators who had assembled to watch the champion motor rallyist being feted. Year after year,they had never seen anybody dominating the Raid like the Manali-born Rana. “It feels wonderful to win the title once again. It wasn’t easy but I am glad we managed to pull it off,” said the 38-year-old. Rana and his navigator,Ashwin Naik who had paired to win the title in 2011,started off on the wrong foot and conceded the lead to Amanpreet Ahluwalia and Venu Ramesh in the first leg. However,driving a Grand Vitara,Rana/Ashwin pegged back to lead in the second leg and held on to it to be crowned the champion for the record ninth time. With an overall timing of 9:46.23 hours,they left Sanjay Agarwal/Shiv Prakash (10:10.35 hours) and Harpreet Bawa/Parminder Thakur (10:11.23 hours) behind. Rana,who owns a motor garage in Manali,first took part in the Raid in 2001 but had to wait till 2004 to win his first title. He win the title five years in succession but a mishap to his Gypsy saw his winning streak end in 2009. He returned stronger and won the next four titles in succession. Rana had a great 2013: he won the Desert Storm for the third time,finished second in Dakshin Dare and has now added won the Raid. “I have been nursing the dream to participate in international events. Hopefully I will be able to do it next year,” said Rana. Meanwhile,Austrian Helmut Frauwallner got the perfect birthday gift in the form of overall winner of X-treme category and the winner of X-treme two-wheeler category. Frauwallner,who turned 55,had overall timing of 9:09.54 hours which was the best timing if the Raid. Stephen Rausch of Germany (10:08.05 hours) and R Nataraj of India (11:05.10 hours) came second and third respectively. The winner in the Adventure trial in four-wheeler category was Jagmeet Gill and Chandan Sen of Team Maruti,who had overall penalty of 0:03.46 hours. Subir Roy/Mohammad Mustafa came second with 0:03.53 hours. Sajan Preet Singh won the X-treme Alpine category while Kunal Rao bagged the title in the newly-introduced scooters category.Meanwhile,it was for the second time in the history of Raid that the motorists,covering 1800 km in six days,were able to conquer Khardung La (17,582 ft) and Wari La (17,300 ft). Meanwhile,Sheetal Bidaye of Mumbai became the first woman to participate in X-treme two wheeler category and Pune’s 20-year-old Kalyani Potekar was the youngest participant in X-treme Alpine category.
Written by Tashi Lundup | Leh | Published: October 13, 2013 2:19:12 am