Leg 1 Stage 1 of the 2018 Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm began late in the afternoon from near Noorsar with competitors traversing more than 40km of harsh desert terrain to Kelan, while Stage 2 saw participants make a night-time run from Motigarh to Rajasar, a distance of about 45km.
In the XTreme category, Suresh Rana (with navigator PV Srinivas Murthy), driving for Team Maruti Suzuki in a Grand Vitara clinched the lead at the end of the first leg by just 33 seconds (with a time of 1:28:01) from Abhishek Mishra (and V Venu Rameshkumar) representing Team Army. Third place was claimed by Gaurav Chiripal and his co-driver Srikanth Gowda.
Hero’s CS Santosh managed to create a near six-minute lead (1:10:44) over second place finisher Aaron Mate (Angata Racing), in the Moto category, while Sanjay Kumar (also racing for Angata Racing) clinched third, almost nine seconds behind Santosh. Last year’s winner in the Moto category, TVS Racing’s R Natraj, finished Leg 1 in sixth place with a time of 1 hour 32 minutes and 43 seconds.
Nipun Agrawal with co-driver Kabir Mansharamani have the lead in the Xplore category with a time that is 9:07 outside the ideal time while the Ndure category saw Lt. Col. Sukhjeet Singh Dhaliwal with Lenin J take the lead with a time 21 minutes outside the ideal time.
The 496km Leg 2 has begun early this morning at Noorsar and will end at Bodana, after which, we shall bid goodbye to Bikaner as the 194km transport stage to Jaisalmer will have to be undertaken.
Stay tuned for updates.