12th Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm to zoom off this Saturday




New Delhi, February 16: The who’s who of Indian motorsport will race for the top spot at India’s longest motorsport extravaganza – The 12th Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm 2014, which zooms off from New Delhi this Saturday.

APRC champion Gaurav Gill will take on homegrown hero Suresh Rana at the Desert Storm, considered to be India’s mini-Dakar. The rally will be flagged off on February 22. It will end at Jaipur on March 1.

Mr Manohar Bhat, Vice President Marketing, Maruti Suzuki said the Desert Storm will traverse a grueling 2,200 kilometers through the rough outback of Sardarshahar, Bikaner and Jaisalmer to finally end at Jaipur. “It is a matter of pride for us that about 265 champion rallyists from the country and abroad will compete in the event. The Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm has graduated from a single-category event in 2003 to an event running in four categories since 2011 – Xtreme, Moto, Ndure and Xplore,” he said.

Desert Storm 2013 winner Suresh Rana of Team Maruti

Desert Storm 2013 winner Suresh Rana of Team Maruti

The motorsport marathon is going to be a tough battle of nerves for Gaurav Gill of Delhi and Suresh Rana of Team Maruti. The catch is that Rana has beaten Gill twice earlier at the Desert Storm, both in 2012 and 2013. Both rallyists are competing in Storm Xtreme, which is about driving high speed over the harsh, treacherous terrain of the Thar desert.

Gill, proud after his win in the Asian Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) 2013, knows he is in for a stiff fight against Rana. This is because Rana has won the Desert Storm thrice – 2009, 2012 and 2013. He is also nine-time winner of India’s iconic motorsport event, the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya. In both 2012 and 2013, Gill had to bow out of the Desert Storm in the first stage itself.

Spicing up the competition at the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm 2014 is Karamjit Singh of Malaysia APRC champion in 2001, 2002 and 2004. He is driving for Team Maruti at the Desert Storm this year.

The other major competitors in the Xtreme category (4X4) at the event are Amanpreet Ahluwalia, Lohit Urs, Sunny Sidhu, Sandeep Sharma, Harpreet Bawa, Major Amarinder Singh Brar, Lt Col Shakti Bajaj, Sarika Sehrawat, Amartej Pal Buwal and Gaurav Chiripal.

The Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm is one of the toughest and most popular rallies in the country given the conditions, tough stages and spectacular terrain ranging from desert stretches and vast salt flats to dirt tracks.

Jayesh Desai, the President of Northern Motorsport, which organizes the Desert Storm, said the 2014 edition will have 55 teams in Rally Xtreme (4X4) and 35 teams in Rally Moto (Motorcycles). These two categories are based solely on fastest timing.

In addition, there will be 35 teams in Rally Ndure and 25 in Rally Xplore. Both these categories follow the Time-Speed-Distance format. Rally Ndure is the more challenging category here, since it follows the Xtreme route. The Xtreme (4-wheelers), Endure and Xplore teams comprise two rallyists each – the driver and the navigator.

From a two-day rally over a decade ago, the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm has evolved into a major motorsport event of massive proportions that now traverses the Thar Desert and the entire span of the dune country.

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