In a first, Malayalee riders win 'Raid De Himalaya' rally
- The off-road competition is the most prestigious event in Asia.
- It is the first time a team from Kerala has won a title in the event.
- A biker from Kerala, who finished in the fourth position brought laurels for the state in the race.
Kerala has all the reasons to feel proud of these two men. Prem Kumar and Shemi Mustafa, young amateur racers from an off-road drivers club in Kottayam lifted the trophy in the coveted Maruti Suzuki 'Raid De Himalaya' rally, one of the top ten toughest rallies in the world held 16,000 feet above sea level.
At the end of a four-day gruelling off-road race through the harsh Himalayan terrain, the team emerged victorious in the 1300-1800cc category (Class 5) beating 28 participants. Though no professional riders, the men took the risk, thrill and adventure in their stride and hit the road in a modified Maruti Gypsy covering over 1800 kilometres. Prem Kumar is a government contractor, and Shemi Mustafa is into business in the Middle East.
In the two-wheeler category, Javin Mathew, another Keralite, finished in the fourth position, bringing double laurels for the state. Javin also hails from Kottayam and owns a Royal Enfield showroom.
The rally was flagged off from Shimla and the participants covered Lahaul, Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, concluding their race at Srinagar.
Though planned as a nine-day event, the event had an abrupt end on the third day following the death of a biker from Kolkata in an accident during the race.
'Raid De Himalaya', is organised by the Himalayan Motorsport Association and Maruti-Suzuki since 1999, making it one of India’s oldest international motorsports events.
The Himalayan rally is the only Indian motorsport event listed in the off-road race calendar of Federation Internationale Motorcyclisme (FIM), Geneva, Switzerland.