Bhuwana, Rajasthan: A battle of over 2300km saw various competitors combat high temperatures, tough terrain and motivated competition to conquer the 2018 Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm. This edition of the rally sees new faces at the top after quite a turn of events. The event saw a 200km night stage stretching from Bhuwana to Majid di Basti. Low visibility, the cold desert temperatures, and no GPS-aid meant the leg was even tougher for all participants.
In the Xtreme 4-wheel category, it was Aabhishek Mishra and co-driver Venu Rameshkumar who held on to their top spot from day 3. They held onto the lead was given to them by the retirement of veteran rallyist Suresh Rana due to an engine failure on his Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara. Following the duo to the podium were Raj Singh Rathore and his navigator Sagar Mallapa in second place, while Niju Padia and Nirav Mehta secured the third position overall.
While Ang’ata Racing’s Aaron Mare took the overall top spot in the Moto category, his lead was a mere 5 minutes more than TVS Sherco Racing rider Lorenzo Santolino. Lorenzo had a blistering pace on the final day of the rally, being the fastest rider of the day trying to beat Aaston to the first place. A continuous streak of wins over 4 days weren’t enough, the Spaniard having to settle for second place on his debut in an Indian rally event. The third spot was secured by another Ang’ata Racing rider, Sanjay Kumar who was off the pace set by Aaron by over 30 minutes. There was a change in guard in Moto category too, with rally legend CS Santosh crashing out early in the rally and reporting a neck injury as a result.
"Overall I have enjoyed my debut rally in India. It's a great experience with the TVS Racing team as I got good technical support with the motorcycle. I got faster as the rally progressed, if not for the minor issues, I would have won the race," said Lorenzo.
In the NDurance category, Ashish Budhia and co-driver Arindam Ghosh won the title, while Nipul Agrawal and Kabir Mansharamani took home the trophy in the XPlore Cars category.