Scooters enter the competition in The 15th Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya

Oct 01, 2013 13:08 | Feature & Viewpoint
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The scooter is going places, literally. The Scooter Class (Xtreme) is the new official entry at one of the top ten toughest motorsport rallies of the world – The Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya.

The Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya is held in awe by rallyists in the country and abroad. It will be organized from October 4 to 12. The Raid will begin from Shimla and will traverse some of the highest motorable roads in the world to end at Leh.

The Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya is turning 15 this year. Vehicles that traditionally compete at the Raid are powerful cars, SUVs, motorcycles and quads. Joining their ranks is the humble scooter.

Scooters are being allowed on a trial basis in their introductory year at the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya. There are six entries in the Scooter Class (Xtreme) this year. The machines taking up the Himalayan challenge are all four-stroke, ranging from 110 to 125 cc. Three of these are Suzuki Access. All scooters will be modified to enhance performance in conformity with rally rules.

Mr Manohar Bhat, Vice President (Marketing) of Maruti Suzuki said that there was a huge demand from the scooter rally champions of the country to participate in the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya. Mr Bhat said that the scooter rallyists wil compete in the Raid Xtreme (Alpine) category.

Tough test for man and machine

The Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya is a six-day marathon motorsport event. Raid Xtreme Alpine is an all-out speed category, in which competitors race for the first three days only.

The Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya is organized by Himalayan Motorsport, the premier Shimla-based motorsport club. President of the club Vijay Parmar said that in the last few years, scooters have been performing well at rallies at the local and regional level across the country.

“We want to promote motorsport among all vehicles. If a guy wants to take the scooter against the Himalayas, there is a lot of spirit behind it. The scooter will have to last out in terms of suspension and power. Day Two of racing will be the real test for man and machine, when the rallyists do the competitive stretch from Gramphu to Losar. The track is complete dirt, and full-blown Raid De Himalaya,” said Parmar.

The third day of racing over a 100-kilometer stretch in Spiti is comparably easier, since the road here is not rough. “It is manageable smooth dirt,” said Parmar.

 

Mumbai's Dinesh Shetty is team leader for scooter class, admits competition is tough

The man behind pushing for the Scooter Class at the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya is Dinesh Shetty, Chairman of the the Twin City Motorsports Club at Mumbai. Dinesh is team leader of all competitors in the scooter class at the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya. The competitors are getting support from Suzuki in terms of spares.

Dinesh admitted that the competition will not be easy for scooters, since the machines have low bottom chassis and engine mountings. “The challenging nature of the terrain with tight corners, hairpin bends and uncompromising jumps makes the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya one of the most demanding events in india and abroad. We know that scooter riders will have to be extra careful while taking jumps, corners etc to stay in the race.”

Dinesh has roped in the scooter rally champions of the country for the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya 2013. These are Muzaffar Ali of Bhopal,  Kunal Rao and Unmesh Kadam of Mumbai, Shardul Sharma of Dehradun, Mohsin Khan of Jaipur and Amit Belgaonkar of Nasik.

Such is the enthusiasm among scooter rallyists that Dinesh says he already has four entries lined up for The Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya 2014.