Desert Storm 2018: Rana scorches the sandy terrains; Santosh sizzles

The five-time champion proved to the rest that he is still the best, by emerging a clear leader in the Xtreme category, after the second leg of the Marurti Suzuki Desert Storm 2018.

Suresh Rana did not show signs of nerves while driving his Grand Vitara, in style, through the hard pack and sandy stages, both at Bikaner and Bikampur.   -  Special Arrangement

The terrains and the `timings' have seen through some changes in 2018, but that did not stop the free-flowing Suresh Rana (co-driver P.V.S. Murthy), of Team Maruti Suzuki Motorsport, from scorching the track. The five-time champion proved to the rest that he is still the best, by emerging a clear leader in the Xtreme category, after the second leg of the Marurti Suzuki Desert Storm 2018, here, on Tuesday.

Only the other day, the defending champion said that he will be under some pressure, being the top contender. However, he did not show signs of nerves while driving his Grand Vitara, in style, through the hard pack and sandy stages, both at Bikaner and Bikampur.

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However, quite a few of the participants found it hard, handling the tricky-looking terrain and the searing heat. "With added elements, such as roadbook navigation and track changes, the difficulty levels have really gone up. However, the early lead has come as a real morale booster for us, and we hope to replicate this in the legs to follow," said Rana.

Abhishek Mishra (Venu Rameshkumar) drove smart, and safe as well, to finish the day at a creditable second. If Rana ruled the road in the Xtreme class, so did C.S. Santosh of Team Hero MotoSports in the Moto category. He stamped his class on a new Hero 450 RR bike, by beating the best of both foreign and Indian riders for the lead, after the first leg.

The first leg was split into two special stages of 41 km and 46 km, and the second leg 496-km run stage, comprising 136 km of special stages all in desert riding conditions.

"It was a pretty good day for me overall, with everything working well for me. I am looking forward to some good racing over the next few days," said Santosh.

READ: Desert Storm: Maruti Suzuki Motorsport strengthens team

The results (provisional, first leg)

Xtreme category: 1. Suresh Rana (co-driver P.V.S. Murthy); 2. Abhishek Mishra (Venu Rameshkumar); 3. Gaurav Chirpal (Srikanth Gowda).

Ndure: 1. Sukhjeet Singh Dhaliwal (J. Lenin); 2. Gurpinder Singh (Mrinmoy Saha); 3. Ruchit Jadhaw (Aditya Garg).

Xplore: 1. Nipun Agarwal (Kabir Manasharamani); 2. Vishal Choudhury (Abhivek Singh Godara); 3. Surendra Gopu (Hardeep Singh).