Kargil, Oct 11 (IANS) Team Polaris Arindam Saikia came back in style to shoot into the lead after a snow-hit Day 2 in the 20th Raid de Himalaya here on Thursday.
Arindam, who was trailing in the 14th place after Day 1, jumped to the top position by showing his skill and courage on the highly challenging climb to Penzi La, where the temperature hovered around minus 16 degree celsius.
Himanshu Arora of Harjee Rallying, a Delhi-based rallying club, moved to second place in his Maruti Gypsy. Col. Shakti Bajaj of Team Army was behind him in the third place, followed by 2014 Raid winner Captain AVS Gill.
Harpreet Bawa, also of Harjee Rallying, was in the fifth spot. The Raid will draw to a close on October 14.
Amitrajit Ghosh of Team Mahindra, who was leading after the first day, suffered two flaps during the day’s demanding stages and lost several minutes. His teammate Philippos Mathai too slipped from his overnight second position to fall behind the lead pack.
Clerk of the Course Manjeev Bhalla said the rallyists had to contend with snow, ice and slippery conditions all through the day. They endured their most harrowing moments at Penzi La in the Ladakh region, at a height of 4,400 meters, known as the gateway to Zanskar.
Indeed, the competitors woke up to snow and ice in the morning. On the route from Panikhar to Penzi La, almost every single biker suffered at least one fall. Fortunately, all the bikers finished the day without any serious injury.
Despite all the challenges, R.Nataraj, riding for Team TVS in the Xtreme Moto, has taken a solid lead among bikers after the second day. Imran Pasha is second, followed by Vishwas SD, Abrar bin Ayub and Rana Pratap Singh.
A significant dropout on day two of the Raid was Sanjay Agarwal of Gurgaon, a podium finisher at multiple Raids. Driving his Grand Vitara, Sanjay has been dogged by bad luck during this edition. His car rolled into a ditch on Wednesday while a wheel came off it on Thursday while coming down from Penzi La.
Lt. Col. BD Malik of Team Army too had to drop out of the Raid Xtreme after the front wheel of his Maruti Gypsy hit a stone and was wrenched off. The vehicle suffered major damage.
Sri Lankan competitors Sarfraz Junaid and Akhry Ameer too dropped off on Day 1, taking a severe toll on the Raid.
On the bright side, though, two amputees racing in the Xtreme Moto, Ashok Munne and Vinod Rawat, are still in the fray.
For the first time in its 20-year history, Raid de Himalaya began from Kargil on Monday. A total of 75 teams took the start in the various categories, including Raid Xtreme, comprising Xtreme 4X4, Xtreme Moto and Extreme Alpine.