Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm flagged off from Noida
The Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm was flagged off from Noida yesterday, after which the competitors had a long liaison stage to reach the start of the competitive stages. Organised by Northern Motorsport, the 2018 Desert Storm will take competitors through five grueling days in the Thar desert, with stages around Bikaner and Jaisalmer. Competitors will have to deal with extreme conditions including miles and miles of sand dunes, high temperatures (over 40 degrees) and long stages before they see the finish line in Jaisalmer. Leg 1 (SS1 and SS2) began earlier today in Bikaner, and consist of two stages with a total distance of 70km. This isn't too long a day but will allow the competitors to get into their groove and set the pace for the following days. Leg 2 (SS3 and SS4) will take competitors from Bikaner to Jaisalmer, with 130km of competitive stages en route. Over the following two days, competitors will tackle stages SS5 through SS9 and will see them through the Sand dunes. They will be up against plenty of challenges, including never-seen-before stages, a single 200km-long stage and two-night stages. The final day is relatively easier, a short 30km dash (SS10) to the finish, bringing the 1,700km rally to a close. There are four different classes under which you can enter, namely Xtreme, Moto, Xplore and Endure. Xtreme is for rally-prepped 4WD vehicles that follow a special stage format, where the winner is declared based on who finishes stages the quickest. The Moto class follows a similar format, but for motorcycles. Meanwhile, the Xplore and Endure classes follow the TSD format - the Xplore is for 2WD cars, while Endure is for AWD/ 4WD cars. One of the most closely watched competitions will be between that of Hero MotoSports and TVS Racing in the Moto class. CS Santosh will be the sole competitor from Hero's stables, astride his Hero 450 RR that he also rode at the Dakar this year. Meanwhile, TVS Racing has Santolino Lorenzo, Tanveer Abdul Wahid and R Nataraj on their RTR 450s. TVS Racing has also entered Aishwarya Pissay, who had a stellar performance at the Raid-de-Himalaya last year. Meanwhile, in the Xtreme class, five-time winner Suresh Rana (co-driver P.V. Srinivas Murthy) is a favourite to win. Another competitor to look out for is Aabhishek Mishra (co-driver V Venu Rameshkumar). Stay tuned to our website for our coverage of the Desert Storm.