|India's leading car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki flagged off the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm 2010 here today. The participating cars were flagged off by Mr. Shashank Srivastava, Chief General Manager (Marketing), Maruti Suzuki, from Noida. The 8th edition of Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm promises to be tougher than ever before as the terrain is worse and the distances are longer this time around.
This year's edition of Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm is witnessing the highest ever participation by motorsport enthusiasts. The 250 rallyists with 100 odd cars and 20 bikes will be traversing over 3,000 km through the interiors of Rajasthan and along the Gujarat coastline before culminating at Udaipur in Rajasthan.
Compared to the last edition of the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm where rallyists have had to drive 20-30 kms of tough terrain at each leg, rallyists will now be driving through at least 100-200 kms of rough tracks every day. While it will put the vehicles and the drivers under tremendous stress, the rallyists with their cars and bikes are undeterred.
While flagging off the rally, Mr. Srivastava said, "Maruti Suzuki has been the pioneer in motorsport in India. For over a decade, it has been making serious efforts to bring motorsport to amateur as well as professional motorsport enthusiasts. We organize the most challenging motorsport events in the country such as Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalaya and Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm. Recently, we started Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare to expand the geographical presence of our motoring events. These efforts are showing very encouraging results. A striking feature of this year's Desert Storm is the highest participation and over 35 per cent participants are first timers."
"Maruti Suzuki will continue its efforts to create more motoring opportunities for young Indians and popularise motorsport", Mr. Srivastava added, while reiterating the company's increasing focus on motorsport in times to come.
Following the ceremonial flag-off in New Delhi, the rallyists will assemble at Paota (on Delhi ¿ Jaipur highway) where the first competitive section starts on February 14 night. The participants will be flagged off close to midnight from Paota towards Bikaner.
The rally will thereafter halt at Bikaner before proceeding towards the sand dunes of Jaisalmer. As the desert sand of the mighty Thar greets the rallyists in the backdrop of the medieval fort, the four-wheel drive vehicles will come into their element. After the Rajasthan desert, the next halt will be at Bhuj, which is at the periphery of the Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
Here, the participants will rev up their vehicles and sprint across the wet and dry sand along the beach on Gujarat coastline. The rallyists will spend two nights at Bhuj in a specially setup tent camp site. The camp site at Bhuj is very close to the Indo-Pakistan border and has the reputation to be fairly inhospitable. The rally will finally culminate at Udaipur. The weary rally drivers will get an opportunity to unwind finally at the Rally Ball and the prize distribution ceremony on the evening of February 19.
Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm participants include doctors, engineers, businessmen and even homemakers, across age groups. There are also a few all-women teams and husband-wife teams as well. The Indian Army will be also sending its teams.
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 and experience the rocky and uncertain Aravalli, the formidable Thar Desert, and the slippery white sands of the Rann of Kutch in quick succession.
The route will take the 250 rallyists through competitive and transport sections. The competitive section includes tough, off-road terrain that has gravel, sand and rocks, while the transport section is run on normal inter-city state highways.
Under the Xtreme category, there will be 11 stages: Quake Zone, Tropic Of Cancer, Beach Run, Twilight Zone, Bad Max +, Nuclear Zone, Airport Express, Never Ending Saga, Twister, Runn off Kutch and Wild Cat. The Xplore category, on the other hand, will have six stages: Morning Light, On to the sea, Night & Day, Sand Dunes, Pilgrim Passage, and Bad Max +.
Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm is being organized in partnership with Northern Motorsport for the 8th year in the running. Northern Motorsports 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. Northern Motorsport has upped the difficulty quotient of the Desert Storm this year again to justify the tag line of `the ultimate adventure'. On the first leg itself, the rallysists will be greeted by the prospect of driving some 70 kms through the night on boulder strewn roads across the Aravallis, crossing semi-dry river beds, etc.