Stage set for exciting leg of Desert Storm

The sandy dunes of Thar Desert await to test the endurance and expertise of drivers as the 15th edition of Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm kick starts from New Delhi on Sunday.

More than 200 participants will be tested as they will drive through Hanumangrah, Bikaner and Jaisalmer covering a distance of over 2,000 kms.   -  Uthra Ganesan

The sandy dunes of Thar Desert await to test the endurance and expertise of drivers as the 15th edition of Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm kick starts from New Delhi on Sunday.

More than 200 rallying enthusiasts will test their machines and skills in the challenging off road endurance event, which see the participants traverse through Hanumangrah, Bikaner and Jaisalmer covering a distance of over 2,000 kms. The race will conclude in Jodhpur on February 4.

Over the years, Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm has gained the reputation of being a mini Daker Rally with sandy dunes and night driving in the desert making it an extremely challenging proposition. The night stage of the rally will take place in Jaisalmer, the toughest phase of the race, where the drivers will have to cover more than 150 km.

Suresh Rana from Manali, a three-time champion, will take a fourth tilt at the title. One of the most successful drivers in India, Suresh has won Maruti Suzuki Raid de Himalaya ten times and is the defending champion of the Dakshin Dare. Considering his reputation and skills, it will be tough for any driver to stop Rana, who will be driving a Grand Vitara.

Sandeep Sharma, the 44-year-old from Delhi who won the Dakshin Dare multiple times, will be driving a Maruti Gypsy and he is confident of doing well here. Sandeep, who has remarkably completed 25 years in rallying, says driving through the sandy terrain in the night will be a challenging proposition for any driver. “The routes are revealed only at the start of a particular stage and it prevents us from doing any recee. In night rallying you trust your instincts and your navigator. Moreover, everything including the tyres and lights should in perfect condition,” he says.

Bani Yadav, who has held her own in the sports dominated by men, is excited to be competing again in the event which she won last year. However, Bani will be without her regular navigator but she is confident of doing an encore here. The 47-year-old from Gurgaon, who has worked hard on her fitness and does mediation as a stress buster, will be driving a Maruti Gypsy. Bani says she has earned the respect of the fellow competitors and thanks her family for their support.

The competition will be held in four categories - Xtreme, Ndure, Moto and Xplore. Competitors taking part in the Xplore segment will have an option to participate for six days or opt for a shorter duration (first three days or last three days).

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