19 droped out of 72 X-treme category on first day of event

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Shimla, Oct 2 (UNI) The calm and sreen atmosphere of the hills and valleys along the Shimla-Manali highway was shattered by the noise of 132 vehicles taking part in the 2050 km long Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya rally which will traverse some of the most difficult passes and valleys.

The 9-day event was formally flagged off by Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal from here yesterday. However the Raid actually commenced this morning as yesterday was devoted to the inspection of vehicles by the organisers and judges.

According to Manjeev Bhalla, an organiser 19 teams out of 72 in the X-treme category dropped out of the event on the first day. The first leg would take the participants to Manali by this evening.

However there were no drop outs amongst the 60 taking part in the amateur category. There are 35 motorbike riders in this category.

After a nights halt at Manali, the second leg would commence tomorrow for Kaza.

The rally will pass through Kaza, Patseo, Leh, Kargil and Zanskar to culminate in Leh on the ninth day. It will pass through scenic valleys of four districts of Shimla, Kulu, Lahul and Spiti, encountering the high passes of the world including Tanglang La (17,582 ft) the second highest in the world, Jalori pass, Rohtang pass, Kunjum L and the formidable Baralacha.

The Raid the oldest cross country motor rally in India and is one of the world's toughest motor rally which finally makes a foray in J&K's Zanskar region. The top rallying teams of the country are participating in the rally including ten Indian Army teams.

The time tested Gypsy is still the most popular vehicle used by the rallyists. Of the 37 four- wheelers taking part in the extreme category whooping 35 are gypsies.

There had been no report of any untoward incident during the first leg.

UNI XC HS MMS1938

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