After six days of gruelling and challenging competition, the 2018 Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm has ended in Jaisalmer with the team of Aabhishek Mishra and V Venu Rameshkumar winning the Xtreme category.
Their time of 11:15:54 beat Raj Singh Rathore’s (along with navigator, Sagar Mallappatime) of 11:50:36. The third runner up in the Xtreme category was the team of Niju Padia and Nirav Mehta, with a time of 12:35:40. Team Maruti Suzuki had a disappointing outing with none of their four vehicles making it past the finish line. While defending champion Suresh Rana had led the pack early on, engine issues during Leg 3 saw him exit the rally.
The Moto category saw Angata Racing have two contenders on the podium - Aaron Mare and Sanjay Kumar. Mare placed first with a time of 8:01:20, while Santolino Lorenzo from TVS Racing finished just behind him, clocking 8:06:39. Kumar meanwhile completed the rally with a time of 8:39:09. Despite claiming a lead position early on, Dakar veteran CS Santosh, who was considered a favourite to win, crashed out of the rally on day 2.
In the 4WD NDure category, Ashish Budhia and co-driver Arindam Ghosh placed first, while Nipul Agrawal and Kabir Mansharamani won the 2WD Xplore category.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. R S Kalsi, Senior Executive Director, Sales and Marketing, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., said, “We are humbled and encouraged to see the ever increasing number of participants with each edition, and this year being at an all-time high. I congratulate the invincible spirit of all the rallyists who participated and completed the 16th edition of Desert Storm. Maruti Suzuki motorsports is committed to the Indian Motorsports story. Our events like the Autoprix have driven more young drivers to test their skills and qualify for our cross country rallies like the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm. We are very optimistic that the millennials would continue seizing these opportunities, and together, we would be able to create an advanced motorsports culture in India.”