Shimla: The 12th edition of Raid de Himalayas was flagged off here on Saturday by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal as motorsport rallyists dropped out Leh from the route chart because the roads to Ladakh capital have nearly perished in the recent cloudburst.
The six-day long motorsport rally kicked off amid much fanfare and musical gala with 277 participants, including 11 female participants.
During the event, participants will pass through some of the most breathtakingly beautiful but difficult terrains of the Western Himalayas. With 164 teams in the fray and 277 participants, this edition has seen the maximum participation ever.
However, mudslides because of the recent cloudburst has nearly left no road in and around Leh.
"On Manali-Leh highway, which used to be the rally route, at many places, there are hardly any roads left. This has made it impossible to reach Leh for rallyists," a 19-year-old participant Apurva Kaushik said.
Speaking after the rally was flagged off, Chief Minister Dhumal said there are environmental concerns due to such a gala motorsporting event but it is also "important" to boost state tourism.
"It is often believed that the carbon emission by the motorsports rally of this stature is very high. But what is important is that without such rallies that boost tourism in the state, the development would see an absolute U-turn."
"Also, with the use of improved technology, Raid de Himalaya has been able to reduce the carbon emissions. The whole idea is to go green without compromising with the development of the state," he added.
Meanwhile, the participants of Raid de Himalayas, India`s only motorsports event listed in the coveted FIM`s (Federation Internationale Motorcyclisme) annual calendar, looked geared up for mountainous challenge. "Though the road conditions are bad, the route is really adventurous," 16-year-old Lavanya, who is a part of the rally to assist her father, a 10th timer at the motor sports event.
The event has been organised jointly by the Club Himalayan Motorsport Association and Department of Youth and Services and Sports.
The Route covers some of the highest motorable places in the world. This would include Kaza (3600 mts), Tabo (3050 mts), Komic (4275 mts) in Spiti valley and Patseo (4830 mts), Sarchu (4551 mts) in Lahul valley, and the formidable Baralacha la (4883 mts).