Khardung-La Pass in Ladakh wraps around the mountains,winds up and touches the highest point in the world. At 18,300 feet,it has the worlds highest motorable roads,and with its tricky terrain,the most challenging ones too. It is the darling of rallyists,so why all the fuss when a race car driver decides to speed up his Formula One car up the pass?
Formula One race cars are designed to only work on smooth tarmacs,like the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida. So,taking one through potholes,bumps,hair pin turns,mud and gravel,sometimes no road at all,was a challenge. Second,you have to survive the altitude, says Neel Jani,a Swiss race car driver of Indian origin,who has become the first driver to take an F1 car to the pass. Crazy is how Jani describes the adventure,which features on Discovery Turbos Khardunga-La: Race Car Extreme this Sunday.
Driving since the age of 16,Jani achieved success driving for A1 Team Switzerland in A1 Grand Prix,helping them win the 2007-2008 title. He currently competes in sports car racing with Rebellion Racings LMP1 Lola-Toyota. You cant go higher than this,and for me,the challenge itself had several challenges in it, says Jani. He also took up the task because it was in India. I have my roots here and this drive helped me connect with them, he says.