Team Mahindra driver Sanjay Takale and Rahul Sancheti (Motoroids, both of them) of Pune won the overall 1st place in SUV’s and Cars at 12th Raid-de-Himalaya 2010 rally which was held from 10th to 16th October, 2010 in Himachal Pradesh starting from Shimla and finishing at Manali, covering more than 2000kms in 6 days. More than 170 participants from all over India and abroad were part of this event. Sanjay and Rahul came out with flying colours to win the overall 1st place in SUV’s and Cars, beating the reigning champions K Prasad and Pradeep Kumar of Karnataka, 3 times Raid Champion Rajesh Chalana from Delhi who lead the Maruti Suzuki Team in this competition, ace navigator Musa Sherif and R Santosh of Kerala (2003 Champion) and Raj Singh Rathore of Jaipur (2010 – Desert Storm SUV winner). The rally was flagged off by Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh at 4.30 am from Peterhoff, Shimla on 11th October. The 1st Leg of the Rally consisted of 232.07kms and route was: Shimla – Paliyad – Shimlo – Ghanahatti – Mandri – Karadaghat – Galog – Arki – Kunihar – Rugda – Bangora – Jablog – Shimla.
Sanjay and Rahul of Team Mahindra clocked 1min & 44 seconds penalties while K Prasad and Pradeep Kumar clocked 3 mins & 08 seconds and Raj Singh Rathore and Chandra Shekhar clocked 3 mins & 08 seconds penalties. This leg was designed to test the skills of Navigators and most of the competitors struggled to find their way. Rahul had to use all his experience to ensure that they were on right route and used GPS points to navigate. The leg got concluded at Shimla for Sanjay & Rahul as winners of Leg 1.
Leg 2 started from Sanjoli, 7 kms outside Shimla at 7.00 am. The route taken was through Shimla – Baldian – Narel – Kingal – Kullu – Manali, covering 298 kms before reaching Mountaineering Institute at Manali. 70% of this route consisted on dirt roads and at one point the rally had to go through Jalori Pass which is 10,500 ft. above the sea level. This is where many competitors faced problem of vehicle breakdown. Sanjay and Rahul stretched their lead over K Prasad and Pradeep by 1 Min. 2 sec followed by Raj Singh Rathore, who maintained his 3rd position with difference of 12 Secs. This lead by Sanjay and Rahul made them winners for Leg 2.
Leg 3 started early from Manali and the route taken was through the famous Rohtang Pass, Gramphoo- Chhatroo – Batal – Kunzum La Pass – Losar – Kaza – Tabo, covering a total distance of 250kms. Sanjay & Rahul took the lead and pushed their Mighty Muscular Mahindra Scorpio to maintain their lead through the rough terrain Gramphoo Chattroo and Batal. While crossing the Kunzum La pass, they encountered black ice which is difficult to identify during fast driving as it merges with the colour of the road. While encountering the last part of the leg at Kaza, there was a steep jump where Sanjay broke the tusion bar of the Scorpio and had to limp to finish. After reaching Tabo, Mahindra Service Team had to work over night to replace the broken bar of the Scorpio.
Leg 4 took the competitors all around the famous Spiti Valley of Ladhakh region covering a distance of 192kms. The route was from Tabo – Sichiling – Dhankar – Lingti – Atargo – Sagnam – Atargo – Kaza – Komik – Kaza – Tabo. Sanjay and Rahul had no option but to go flat out for the kill. The lead had reduced to 18 secs by Pradeep & Prasad along with other teams. Terrain was rough dirt and roads had no boundary walls to protect the vehicle from going into the valley. Sanjay had to make sure that they stick to mountain side while driving at high speed. One mistake could take them 4000 –5000 ft deep down into the valley. Nonetheless, the duo maintained their lead at the end of Leg 4.
Leg 5 route consisted a total of 280kms through Tabo – Kaza – Losar – Kumzum La – Batal – Gramphoo – Tandi – Darcha – and Patseo. While trying to maintain the lead just before reaching Tandi the 2nd Tusion bar of the Scorpio gave away and they had to limp to reach Keylong which was 20 kms. This day also ended with 20 secs lead over Prasad and Pradeep. The Mahindra Service team responded to Sanjay’s SOS to repair the vehicle at wee hours, inspire most of the service team members suffered from cold and high altitude sickness. The long night stay along with the service team stressed Sanjay to his limits. However, will power didn’t let him lose his enthusiasm and Sanjay started the final leg of the rally with a new found rigor.
Leg 6- the judgement day had arrived and now it was the time to calm those nerves and prove your metal, as all the teams were roaring to go for the kill and even the slightest mistake could put any participating team out of the competition. Sanjay and Rahul hadn’t slept a bit, to ensure their vehicle was ready for the following final day’s rally. Putting all their experience together in good use they started the last leg which went through Patseo – Baralacha La – Sarchu – Whisky Nullah – Sarchu – Patseo – Keylong – Gramphoo – Manali, covering a total of 420kms, which was the longest of the all the legs. The team took the 1st start and encountered early morning fresh slippery ice on the roads. At one point, the Scorpio skidded over the ice but luckily, the car ramped into the mountain side of the road. Still recovering from the brief but deadly incident, the duo finished the rally with narrow margin of 19 seconds over the 2nd place.
All the six legs of the rally were designed to test not only the vehicle but the endurance, skills and experience of team members. It was a mammoth task for the supporting team too, to provide service to the team and maintain the teams moral in the tough terrain of the Himalayas. Owning to the fierce nature of the rally and the unforgiving terrain of the Himalayas, the Raid- de- Himalaya rally has earned the title of the most toughest and dangerous rallies in India over the years.
The team was co-sponsored by Garmin Asus (with navigation phone), ABS for fitness of the team and Dreams Group a construction company.