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Keep pace

Fast cars, bikes and boats. Racing tidbits from around the world.

Print Edition: Jan 9, 2011

EQUESTRIAN
Snow Polo
Originating in Persia circa 600 BC, and moving on to Britain, America, India, and ultimately the rest of the world, today polo is played in over fifty countries across all continents. This makes it without a doubt the most exclusive equestrian sport. The St Moritz Polo World Cup on snow is the world's most prestigious winter polo tournament which is held around the same time every year. But unlike the earlier editions where teams were divided based on their sponsors, this year, patrons will represent their countries of origin as they compete for the coveted trophy. The organisers feel that international competition will increase the level of excitement and ensure the tournament has long term success.

CAMEL RACE
Humps on seed

The camels are back on the track. Over the past 20 years, camel racing in the UAE has gained both structure and prominence with some 15 racetracks across the country equipped with well-kept stadiums. The races take place from late October to early April, and are generally conducted on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with one race at 7.30 am and one at 4 pm. Distances vary between 4 and 10 km and 15 to 70 camels participate in each race. The lifting of a large, multi-strand barrier signifies the beginning of the race, and winners receive big prizes, including luxury cars. Not surprising since prized racing camels are worth millions. Incidentally, the camels now race with robots on their back instead of the previous child jockeys, some of whom were as young as six years old.

Pirelli's Return to F1
After a 19-year-long hiatus from the circuit, Pirelli is making a comeback at the 2011 F1 racing season. All 12 Formula 1 teams were present at the two-day tyre test held in Abu Dhabi in November 2010, where the racers racked up close to 11,000 km as part of the tyre testing process. The drivers got a taste of the Italian company's rubber, and decided to replace Bridgestone with Pirelli as the sole tyre supplier for the coming season. World champion Michael Schumacher, who had used Pirelli tyres almost two decades ago, was also present at the event. Much discussion ensued over how the shift to Pirelli could make him more competitive in the upcoming season, so until proved otherwise, let's wait and watch.

GRAND PRIX
Yamaha on top
It's been a big year for MotoGP, and especially for team Yamaha. Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo rounded off a great season with his ninth title-clinching win for Yamaha along with teammate Valentino Rossi. Together, the two racked up a record number of points-a whopping 383-and Lorenzo took the number one spot for the year, with Rossi coming in third. However, this is the last we will see of their collaboration, as Rossi will be racing for Ducati next year.

MOUNTAINEERING
Annapurna Trail Race
The story began 15 years ago, back in 1995, when local runners in the Annapurna mountain range in Nepal set out to prove that the run from Pokhara to Poon Hill and back-which would ordinarily take the average trekker approximately five days to complete-could be accomplished in 12 hours or less. That year, the winner took exactly 11 hours, 55 minutes and 55 seconds to make the return journey thereby setting a new record. Owing to conflict in the area, the race underwent a bit of a set-back in the following years. But it was firmly back on track in 2009 when a successful 100-km race was run, and in 2010, which saw a new 71-km trail. On January 1, 2011, participants will have the choice of covering 50 km, 70 km and 100 km across some very arduous but beautiful terrain. Scaling heights of upto 3210 metres, this trail guarantees the ultimate rush for adrenaline junkies. Getting high at New Year can never be more exciting.

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