Rana defends Desert Storm title
Jaipur, Feb 23 : Suresh Rana of Team Maruti Saturday romped to victory at the 11th Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm, the six-day gruelling motorsport event that started from Delhi Feb 18 and ended at Jaipur.
Rana topped Rally Xtreme while Team Maruti kept its dominance in Rally Ndure and Rally Xplore. Aggressive in his Grand Vitara, Rana kept a vice-like grip over at the top in 12 of the total 13 competitive stages of the event.
Rana said that during a competitive stage on Day 2, 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 cross-country motorsport champion.
Rana finally ended the event with a lead of 29.33 minutes over his closest competitor, Sunny Sidhu of Chandigarh. Sidhu ranked second with a lead of 15.36 minutes over Lohit Urs of Mysore.
Somdev Chanda of Team Maruti 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.
Gill of Team Maruti had a lead of 7.37 minutes over Parth Beniwal, who ranked third. 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 of Team Maruti 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, also of Team Maruti. 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. 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 5, had a fall in the last competitive stage Saturday bringing him to second. Third in Rally Moto was German biker Stephan Rausche, who made a remarkable comeback after losing time in the first two days.
The 11th edition of the event had started with 138 teams in the fray including 52 teams in Xtreme, 34 in Ndure, 29 in Xplore, 29 in Moto and three in Quad. The rally traversed about 2,200 kilometres in the wild outback of Sardarshahar, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jaipur where it ended Saturday.