Unlike the previous legs of Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm, the fifth (and final) leg of the rally had a midnight stage and was to take the competitors 500km towards Jodhpur for finish. This was a true test of endurance for the riders and the drivers participating in this action-packed event. They hardly got any rest after the leg 4 that saw them navigating through a 200-km-long tough and challenging terrain.
For those who have landed here for the first time, following is an overview of the various categories of the motorsporting event:
The Xtreme participants traverse through over 850 Kilometres of controlled Timed Special Stages on their 4-wheeled mean machines. These stages are connected to each others and night halts through speed controlled transport sections.
Participants on 2-wheelers follow the same route as the Xtreme. The race is slightly tougher for them because they have to navigate the sharp turns without the help of a co-driver.
Navigating the same route as the Xtreme, Ndure is slightly relaxed pace-wise. However, it remains as challenging as ever for the participants. The challenge of this TSD format lies in maintaining a speed while ensuring that they are on the designated route.
This TSD (Time, Speed, and Distance-based format) for stock cars, had the participants skirting around the magnificent Thar at a pace that is relaxed at some places and intense at others.
At the end of Leg 4, Hero MotoSports Team Rally’s CS Santosh had extended his lead 10 minutes in the Moto Category. In the Xtreme category, Team Maruti Suzuki’s Suresh Rana and Ashwin Naik had managed to maintain their lead. In the TSD rally, Nikunj Toshniwal and Suvrajit Dutta lead the Ndure category and Karthick Maruthi and Sankar Anand lead the Xplore category.
During Leg 5, there were many nail-biting, heart stopping moments, there was never a dull moment for the participants, or for those who witnessed the feat. Participants drove for around 150 Km during the night, and the rally finally culminated in Jodhpur.
While in the Moto category, there was a bit of an upset when CS Santosh was given a 35 minute time penalty for missing a checkpoint, resulting in TVS Racing's R Nataraj emerging victorious, in rest of the categories, the final results more-or-less echoed the scores at the end of leg 4. In the XTreme category, Team Maruti Suzuki's Suresh Rana and Ashwin Naik maintained their lead and emerged victorious. Similarly, in the NDure category, Nikunj Toshniwal and Suvrajit Dutta went on to win the title and in XPlore Category, Karthick Maruthi and S. Sankar Anand took home the trophy.
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My heartfelt congratulations to the winners. In case of an event like motorsports, however, I feel that it requires a lot of grit even to participate. The very thought of the thrills the participants of Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm would have experienced brings on an adrenaline rush in me. I am myself a motorsport enthusiast, and am glad that corporations like Maruti Suzuki are making efforts to make these events accessible to general public, amateurs, and seasoned professionals alike.
Events like Maruti Suzuki Autocross championship and Maruti Suzuki National Super league TSD Rally Championship are a boon to enthusiasts. They offer an opportunity to me to actually experience what it is like to participate in a motorsporting event. Well, almost. For this activity is performed in a controlled environment. The event does not involve any of the “real” risks that are integral to other motorsporting events such as Maruti Suzuki Raid-de-Himalayas, Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare, and, of course, Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm.
In case you, like me, want to stay updated about the motorsporting events that Maruti Suzuki organizes, you can look up http://www.marutisuzukimotorsport.com/.