In the first leg of the 2018 Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm, the participants fired a dust storm across the 217 km stage that ended in Bikaner braving the scorching heat of the Thar Desert, hardened rally drivers sat in their rally prepared ovens battling it out for the top spot in the various categories of the 16th edition of the Desert Storm! Affectionately known as Camel Country, the maximum temperature in Bikaner touches 53.5 °C in summers. The city is famous for its Junagarh fort, Karni Mata temple and camel festival.
In the Xtreme category, Suresh Rana from Team Maruti Suzuki Motorsport was seen leading the rally by completing the leg first along with his navigator PVS Murthy in his Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara. Following their lead was Aabhishek Mishra and his navigator V Venu Rameshkumar and Gaurav Chiripal with navigator, Srikanth Gowda who finished third.
Commenting on their lead on Day 1, Suresh Rana said, “We are thrilled to be part of the 16th edition of the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm. With new elements added to the rally such as Roadbook navigation and around 70% new tracks, the difficulty level of the rally has gone a notch higher. Our lead in the first leg will definitely act as a morale booster and we hope to replicate this in the coming legs of the rally.”
In the Moto category, CS Santosh took the lead in the first leg followed by Aaron Mare and Sanjay Kumar who came a close third. While the Xtreme participants geared up for the early stage starts on their way to the next station at Jaisalmer.
Desert Raiders: Lt Col Sukhjeet Singh Dhaliwal & Lenin J (Penalty - 00:21:00)
Desert Raiders: Gurpinder Singh & Mrinmoy Saha (Penalty - 0:21:55)
Ruchit Jadhaw & Aditya Garg (Penalty - 0:22:34)
Nipun Agrawal & Kabir Mansharamani (Penalty - 00:09:07)
Desert Raiders: Vishal Choudhary & Abhivek Singh Godara (Penalty - 01:13:12)
Surendra Gopu & Hardeep Singh (Penalty - 01:30:04)
As the competitors gradually began to acclimate themselves to the deserts extreme conditions, the rally entered day 2 in the sandy city of Jaisalmer. The elements of nature started taking a toll on the vehicles, but the spirit and enthusiasm of the contestants remained unperturbed. It was Aabhishek Mishra and V Venu Rameshkumar took the lead, clocking in at 03:44:07; with Suresh Rana and PVS Murthy from Maruti Suzuki Motorsport in Grand Vitara, and Raj Singh Rathore and Sagar Mallappa narrowing in on the leaders at second and third positions respectively. Following their lead was Samrat Yadav and Najeeb Nizami in a Maruti Suzuki Gypsy andeep Sharma and Karan Arya in their AWD S-Cross finishing at the 6th position.In the Moto category, C.S. Santosh took a comfortable lead, with Aaron Mare and Sanjay Kumar coming in at second and third respectively.
Commenting on closing Leg 2 with a lead, Aabhishek Mishra said, “It’s a great feeling to have a lead at the end of the day, but you can’t let the confidence turn into overconfidence. We’re going to continue with a calm mind tomorrow. Hopefully we can carry this result forward.”
The rally will be traversing around beautiful yet grueling landscape of Jaisalmer for the upcoming legs, thereby concluding with a finale on 23rd March.
Results at the end of Leg 2
Aabhishek Mishra and V Venu Rameshkumar: 03:44:07
Suresh Rana and PVS Murthy: 03:44:45
Raj Singh Rathore and Sagar Mallaplla: 03:53:11
C.S. Santosh: 03:03:06
Aaron Mare: 03:05:20
Sanjay Kumar: 03:21:27