|The Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm rally culminated in a grand finale today with Abhishek Mishra-Hanumant Singh winning in the Xtreme category for cars and Jes David claiming the trophy for bikes. Raj Singh Rathore took home the prize in the Ndure category, while Sanjay Takale converted his steady lead into a victory in the Xplore run.
The last and deciding competitive stage, 67 kilometers long, consisted of driving in an open area of undulating plain. Amartej Buwal, who was also in the contention for winning the Xtreme trophy during the early hours on Friday, drove his car into a pond, while negotiating a sharp bend.
In the Xtreme category, Abhishek Mishra was joined by runners-up Harpreet Singh Bawa and Sandeep Sharma, while among the bikers, the top three finishers were Jes David, Natraj and Virendra Veghela.
Shashank Srivastava, chief general manager – marketing, Maruti Suzuki, congratulated the winners and the daring spirit of all the participants for enduring the merciless Aravallis, the scorching Thar, and the vast expanse of the Great Rann.
The Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm 2010 witnessed a series of major upsets caused by tough terrain. Day 3-4 of the rally and the Great Runn in particular proved to be rather calamitous as all three leaders – Sunny Sidhu, Suresh Rana and Major. A.S. Brar – were forced to pull out due to vehicle stress and mechanical problems.
For many other participants, the first night of the rally would be memorable for all the wrong reasons over a long, long time. The 72-km long first competitive leg involved driving through the night across a river bed containing loose sand, gravel, boulders, and a terrain dubious beyond one's imagination. Quite a few cars overturned, a few others got stranded in the loose sand, while a few more lost their way in the wilderness. There were no casualties.
On Day 3, rallyists in the Xtreme category were faced with the uncertain prospect of night driving on slippery sands inside the Great Rann, a first for competitive motor sport in the country.
On the whole, the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm lived up to its promise of being the toughest yet. As many as 16 cars out of the 44 competing in the Xtreme category were forced to pull out, while in the Ndure category, only 11 cars remained out of the original cast of 21. Bikers fared no better as only 7 competitors were left out of the 21 which had started off on February 14 night. Competitors in the Xplore category were the only ones who survived more or less unscathed as 26 of the 27 cars completed the schedule.
This year's edition of Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm witnessed the highest ever participation by motorsport enthusiasts. The 250 rallyists with 100 odd cars and 21 bikes have traversed close to 3,000 km through the interiors of Rajasthan and along the Gujarat coastline.
The six-day rally is one of the toughest motor-sports events in India. The rally is a mix of adventure, thrill and fear for the participants as they tread through uncharted territory.
Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm is being organized in partnership with Northern Motorsport for the 8th year in the running. Northern Motorsport is one of the leading motorsport organizations in India. It organizes a range of motorsport events for Maruti Suzuki including Autocross, Rally of the North, etc. With a team of well-known automotive enthusiasts, Northern Motorsport and Maruti Suzuki are together exploring the unexplored terrains of motorsports in India.