Aabhishek Mishra and Adrien Metge have firmly held on to their lead in the Xtreme and Moto categories of the 2019 Desert Storm after Leg 3 concluded in Jaisalmer. The penultimate leg comprised a single marathon stage (SS6), requiring competitors to tackle 190km of tricky terrain.
Team Mahindra Adventure’s Gaurav Gill and co-driver Musa Sherif endured a difficult stage, losing a significant chunk of time after suffering a technical issue and then getting stuck while attempting to cross a dune. At the end of Leg 2, Gill was running in 2nd place and was trailing Mishra and co-driver Shrikant Gowda by just over three minutes. However, the incident on Leg 3 dropped him down to 8th place in the Xtreme category. As a result, Samrat Yadav and Kunal Kashyap have been promoted to 2nd place overall.
Mishra, who’s competing for Team Sparky’s Garage, set the fastest time of the stage to further strengthen his lead to just over 17 minutes. Meanwhile, his teammate Capt. AVS Gill along with co-driver Diwakar Kalia gained a position in the overall standings and is now up to 3rd place. Lahkpa Tsering and co-driver V Venu Rameshkumar made some big gains in the rankings and are now just 16sec behind, in 4th place. Seven-time Desert Storm champion Sunny Sidhu and co-driver Ashwin Naik retired on the stage, leaving Gaurav Gill as Team Mahindra Adventure’s sole competitor.
After spending the first two legs trailing Adrien Metge, Hero MotoSports’ CS Santosh recorded the fastest time in the Moto category in SS6, conquering the very stage where he crashed in last year’s Desert Storm. Nevertheless, Metge’s stage time of 2hours 46.40 mins was enough for the TVS Racing rider to hold on to the lead. TVS Racing’s Abdul Wahid Tanveer, R Nataraj and Rajendra RE all continue to run in the top 5 and now stand 3rd, 4th and 5th overall. Aishwarya Pissay had broken into the top 10 after Leg 2, however, she could not start SS6 due to a technical issue and has dropped to 16th place overall as a result.
In the Ndure category, Deepak Sachdeva gained two positions to move into the lead with a cumulative leg penalty of 1 hour 3.53 mins. Varun K Augustine stands 2nd overall, while early leader Ankur Chauhan is now 3rd in the standings.
The 2019 Desert Storm will now run four stages in the Xtreme category and two stages in the Moto category in its final day before the champions are crowned.