Desert Storm 2018: The joy and pain of riding in the dark

After running the night stages on Day One, and inviting mixed reactions, Northern Motorsports, the organisers, decided to reschedule it, on the penultimate day of the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm.

South African Aaron Mare, of Angata Racing, said that he got lost a couple of times.   -  Special Arrangement

Riding in a desert at night can be real fun. However, from the rally point of view, it can be dangerous too. So, after running the night stages on Day One, and inviting mixed reactions, Northern Motorsports, the organisers, decided to reschedule it, on the penultimate day of the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm, here, on Thursday.

"We can do the night stages, but not so late. It is not like INRC or a small rally to finish. The stages are like at 40, 50 and 90. So, if we get stuck, there will not be anybody out there, and it will take some time for the marshals to reach us. We will have to wait in fear," said Yuva Kumar, a rallyist from Bengaluru.

"Also, if a rider ahead is going to kick up some dust, then we can't see the road. There can be dunes and animals crossing," he added. He said that they may even have to cut down on speed and ride in doubt. South African Aaron Mare, of Angata Racing, said that he got lost a couple of times. "For the guys using the roadbook, it is impossible to read. You don't know where the cautions are, and anything else, for that matter. I was pretty careful right through."

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However, two-time Dakar Rally specialist, and Hero MotoSports' star rider, C.S. Santosh, had this to say. "There are cross country rallies that have night stages. If you have everything in place, like good lights and safety precautions, then it is pretty much ok."

The organisers, however, felt that night run could be fun, and that the riders can work towards a goal. "But it did not turn out the way we wanted it to and had to switch over," said Jayesh Desai, head of Northern Motorsports.

"We considered many factors, such as fatigue of riders, the condition of the bikes, lack of physical preparedness of a majority of participants, and decided to play safe. I think we need to wait for a couple of more years to run it again," he added.

The FIM (World governing body for two-wheelers) rules do not permit a night event. "FIM rules are for world championship events and we are not one," said Raj Kapoor, its vice president. He said that a majority of the riders wanted the night run. However, when pointed out the difficulty in reading the roadbook, he quickly added that it's a challenge. "If you are so scared, you should sit at home. The entire concept is to push your endurance levels and your ability to perform, using your skill sets."

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