The fifth edition of the Ultimate Desert Challenge recently concluded in Bikaner, Rajasthan. The event was divided into two parallel segments namely UDC Offroad and UDC XCross. The Ultimate Desert Challenge 2019 started on February 1st with the UDC ‘Offroad’ holding 3 special stages in Shivbari area on Day 1. On Day 2, four special stages were held in the dunes of Udat village, 1 special stage was held in Nal village, and a night stage was held in Raisar village. Day 3 saw two Special Stages held at Mehrasar village after which the competition moved to the ‘X-cross’ that witnessed competitors rallying through 8 back-to-back laps of 21 km each.
The entire event was spread across three days after which Kabir Waraich with his co-driver Amber Udasi from Gerrari Offroaders emerged as the winners of the UDC Offroad category. A total of thirty-five teams from across India took part in the 2019 edition of Ultimate Desert Challenge. Kabir and Amber scored an impressive 1090 out of 1100 points in their Polaris RZR 1000. With his latest win, Kabir Waraich has continued his winning streak at UDC Offroad as he managed to clinch the title in 3 out of 4 occasions. Kabir and Amber achieved this feat by defeating thirty-five teams from all across the country.
The overall second position in UDC Offroad category was won by Chandigarh’s Gurmeet Virdi with his co-driver Kunal Kashyap from Team Gerrari Offroaders. The duo scored 1050 points and Gurmeet was driving a Polaris RZR 1000 for the first time at UDC. Gagandeep Gill with his co-driver Amardeep Godara came third on the podium with 894 points. On the other hand, Pune’s Dr. Ritika Oberoi with her co-driver Sagar Mallappa emerged as the fastest women at UDC Offroad with 558 points.
Gurugram’s Gaurav Chiripal with his co-driver Karan Arya claimed the winner’s award at the newly-introduced ‘X-Cross’ segment with cumulative timing of 2 hours 43 minutes and 8 seconds in his Polaris RZR 1000. Gaurav was awarded the ‘Ajay Bambi Memorial Award’ for this achievement and was closely followed by Bikaner’s Devendra Singh Rathore with co-driver Vinay Bhatnagar at the second spot, who clocked the finish box at cumulative timings of 3 hours 1 minutes and 36 seconds in his Mahindra Thar. The third spot at UDC X-Cross was claimed by Gurugram’s Vikas Tanwar with co-driver Rajit Kadian with cumulative timings of 3 hours 48 minutes 8 seconds in his Maruti Gypsy. The toughness quotient of the UDC X-Cross can be gauged from the fact that only 6 out of the 12 competitors who took a start could finish all the 8 laps successfully.
Kabir and Gaurav, alongside other podium winners, category-wise winners of both the segments and special award winners, were felicitated at a prize distribution ceremony held at Thar Exotica Resort, Bikaner in the presence of Mr. Arvind Balan (President – Dune Adventure Sports Club), Mr. Sangram Singh Rathore (Event Director – Ultimate Desert Challenge), and Mr. Ashish Kumar Singh (National Sales Head – Polaris India).
Quotes from the winners:
After successfully defending his title, Kabir said, “It’s a feeling that’s difficult to explain in words! It’s a hat-trick of wins at the UDC and I couldn’t have been happier. This particular win did not come easy the competition was very tight and scheduling was such that we were continuously running back-to-stages. I was feeling sleep-deprived at times but somehow I kept pushing myself and good results followed. I would like to thank my co-driver Amber without who this win wouldn’t have been possible.”
Gaurav Chiripal said, “The newly introduced X-Cross is an amazing concept. We as rallyists are always hunting new challenges and the X-Cross served us the same. In X-Cross it was all about planning forward for my stages and being strategic. I think that’s exactly what entitled me to be the winner. As they say that to win you first need to finish. So, I would like to add this for future participants that there are 3 things which can help you win- reliability of the car, your control over it and planning.”
Winners' thoughts on the Polaris RZR:
Gurmeet Virdi who was driving his Polaris RZR 1000 for the first time in UDC has some tips for drivers who are relatively new to rallies. He says that it is better to start off with a stock vehicle always. He said that the Polaris RZR has no match with the Gypsies and the Thars but driver's skill is also important at the same time. The reason being, vehicles like Polaris RZR can topple quite easily if there is no driver skill involved. On the other hand, Gaurav Chiripal said that Polaris RZR is a wonderful and a very powerful machine and he was amazed with the capability of the vehicle the first time he drove it. However, it took him two days to get used to the weight and power of the vehicle. He sees many more participants using the Polaris off roaders in the years to come as he finds his RZR way better than the Thars, Gypsies and the Vitaras.