Desert Storm 2018: Aabhishek takes charge; Rana fails to impress

In the second leg, the other day, the five-time champion, Suresh Rana, attacked the stages and took everybody by surprise, by even getting past the riders.

Aabhishek Mishra (Venu Rameshkumar) scorching the track at third leg of the Desert Storm 2018.   -  Special Arrangement

Strategies sometimes fail. But for Suresh Rana (co-driver P.V.S. Murthy), of Team Maruti Suzuki Motorsport, it failed big time. The defending champion decided to take it easy and was nicely cruising through the stages before his engine let him down, in the third leg of the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm 2018, here, on Wednesday.

In the second leg, the other day, the five-time champion attacked the stages and took everybody by surprise, by even getting past the riders.

It looked for a moment that he was in total command, but Aabhishek Mishra (V. Venu Rameshkumar) did one better to finish on top. Rana rubbed it off, saying that he played it cool and reserved his best for the third leg.

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It was the longest rally stage, about 199kms to be precise, and it did test the skills of both the riders and the drivers. Rana, the `King of the Desert', as they say, was expected to pass the test pretty easily.

He had been doing that for some time now, but engine issues cut short his journey midway through, and it came as a huge blow to the team.

Meanwhile, Aabhishek, who had a 40-second edge over Rana, at the start of the day, did go through some anxious moments as well, when his car got stuck in the sand. "It took us about ten minutes, but we managed to bring it home with comfort," said Venu, his co-driver from Coimbatore.

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"Tomorrow is pretty crucial, as we have both have the day and the night stages. We want to play it cool all the way," he added.

The results

Second leg: Xtreme: 1. Aabhishek Mishra (Venu Rameshkumar 03:44:07; 2. Suresh Rana (P.V.S Murthy) 03:44:45; 3. Raj Singh Rathore (Sagar Mallaplla) 03:53:11).