Shimla : Kullu valley boy and ace driver Suresh Rana of Team Maruti on Saturday won the 11th Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm. The six-day grueling motorsport event started from Delhi on Feb 18 and ended at Jaipur. Rana topped Rally Xtreme, the toughest category of the event which is about high speed.
Competitively aggressive in his Grand Vitara, Rana kept a vice-like grip over the top position in 12 of the total 13 competitive stages of the event. Rana said that during a competitive stage on Day Two, he lost 14 minutes due to a minor upset on the track.
“Thereafter, I made a conscious effort not to yield even a minute. Fortunately, I was able to increase my lead till the last competitive stage,” said the marathon cross-country motorsport champion of the country.
Rana finally ended the event with a splendid lead of 29.33 minutes over his closest competitor, Sunny Sidhu of Chandigarh. Sidhu ranked second in Rally Xtreme with a lead of 15.36 minutes over Lohit Urs of Mysore.
In an event which had competitors driving all major Indian and also some foreign automobiles, Team Maruti kept its dominance in Rally Ndure and Rally Xplore.
Somdev Chanda ranked first in Rally Ndure with a lead of three minutes over Jagmeet Gill. “The last competitive stage turned out to be the most dramatic. The morning rain packed the loose sand, and as we sped on, we saw a whole new facet of the desert challenge,” said Chanda.
Jagmeet Gill , who ranked second, had a lead of 7.37 minutes over Parth Beniwal, who ranked third in Rally Ndure. All three competitors drove Maruti Gypsy. Rally Ndure follows the Rally Xtreme route in the Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) format and four-wheel drive vehicles.
In Rally Xplore, Sanjay Takale zoomed to victory in his SX4. “The speed rush was a battle of nerves, and I finally topped the Rally Xplore challenge with a lead of 32 seconds,” said the champion TSD rallyist.
Satish Gopalkrishnan of Bangalore ranked second with a lead of 1.36 minutes over Rajesh Chalana. Rally Xplore follows the TSD format in a separate route and two-wheel drive vehicles.
Jaipur’s Raj Singh Rathore topped Xtreme Quad, driving his Polaris RZR 800 to victory with the fastest stage timings. “I am a desert man, and ‘dune up’ or ‘dune down’ in the Polaris was a game of joy,” said Rathore, who scored the fastest stages of the event. Second in Xtreme Quad was Brandon Glissmeyer, also driving a Polaris RZR 800.
Mohit Verma ranked first in Xtreme Moto with a lead of 27 seconds over Vijay Parmar of Shimla. Parmar, who was ranking first in Rally Moto till day Five, had a fall in the last competitive stage on Saturday, bringing him to the second position. Third in Rally Moto was German biker Stephan Rausche, who made a remarkable comeback after losing on time majorly in the first two days of the event.
The 11th edition of this tough, challenging motorsport event had started on Feb 18, with 138 teams in the fray. These included 52 teams in Xtreme, 34 in Endure, 29 in Xplore, 29 in Moto and three in Quad. A total of 263 rallyists from all over the country and also abroad fighting for top honours in one of the most prestigious motorsport events of the country.
The rally traversed about 2,200 kilometers in the wild outback of Sardarshahar, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jaipur, where it ended on Saturday. The harsh, unforgiving desert terrain took a toll over man and machine, and by the end of the rally, there were only about 25 per cent competitors running in each category.
Mayank Pareek, the Managing Executive Officer of Maruti Suzuki, said that from a two-day rally over a decade ago, the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm has evolved into a motorsport event of massive proportions.
From a two-day rally over a decade ago, the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm has evolved into a motorsport event of massive proportions that now traverses the Thar Desert and the entire span of the dune country.