Rana, Helmut win Raid de Himalaya

Leh, Oct 12 (IANS) Suresh Rana of Team Maruti Suzuki won his ninth Raid de Himalaya in the X-treme cars category while Austrian Helmut Frauwallner was the winner in the motorcycles category.

Rana, who won his fourth consecutive raid, and Ashwin Naik (co-driver) driving a Grand Vitara won 24 minutes and 12 seconds ahead of second placed Sanjay Agarwal and Shivprakash E).

In the sixth and final leg Friday, Rana and Naik maintained their lead, finishing in an hour and 28 minutes.

Frauwallner riding a Yamaha bike was the overall winner over the six legs, finishing in a total time of nine hours, nine minutes and 54 seconds.

The Austrian, who Saturday lifted the trophy on his 55th birthday, was almost an hour ahead of second placed Stephan Rausch of Germany, riding the Hauseberg FE 450.

"It is sad that Amanpreet had to pull out, I feel bad for him and understand his feelings as I too had to pull out in 2009 on the last day," Rana, who hails from Manali told reporters here Saturday.

"Hopefully, there will be more competition next year. I hope people use more of the stock engine because it's the best in a cross country rally," he added.

Amanpreet Ahluwalia/Venu Ramesh who were leading on day one, and had maintained the second spot over next four days, did not finish the rally owing to engine failure Friday.

Amanpreet suffered a blown engine on his way to the climb of Wari La. R. Nataraj of Team TVS racing finished third.

Sanjay Agarwal/Shiv Prakash, who were fourth at the end of leg five, had the second best timing Friday and moved ahead of Harpreet Bawa/Kashyap.

Meanwhile, out of the 75 cars, bikes and scooters that had entered the competition, only 29 finished including of all five participants in the newly-created Scooters category. In the Adventure Trial category, a remarkable 41 made it through the final leg out of 62 cars.

The competitors went through a loop of 225 km around Leh, the district headquarter of Ladakh. The vehicles Friday covered Leh-Karu-Sakthi-Wari, La-Thangar-Agham-Khalsar-North, Pollu-Khardung La-South Pollu and back to Leh.

A total of 153 cars and bikes had entered the Raid this year, the highest number of entries so far.

Brief Results:

Top 3 Cars and Trucks:

Suresh Rana/Ashwin Naik- 9:46:23

Sanjay Agarwal/Shivprakash E- 10:10:35

Harpreet S Bawa/Parminder Thakur- 10:11:23

Top 3: Motorcycles

Helmut Frauwallner- 9:09:54

Stephan Rausch- 10:08:05

Natraj R- 11:05:10

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