About 200 motorsport enthusiasts are participating in the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm rally, which was flagged off from the Great India Place Mall, Noida, on Sunday.
Covering a total of 2,000 km, the rally will steer through the sand dunes and rocky terrains of Hanumanagarh, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur in Rajasthan. The last leg of the rally will conclude in the sandy expanse of Jodhpur on April 10 with a prize distribution ceremony.
The 14th edition of the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm has seen the highest ever participation by enthusiasts this year, proving the growing popularity of motorsports in the country. The rallyists come from various cities across India including Jaipur, Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Chandigarh and Bangalore.
Vitara Brezza, the newly launched compact urban SUV from Maruti Suzuki will be seen cruising through the rally route.
“The Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm rally is a true test of endurance, as it pushes man and machine to extreme limits as they navigate across the barren arid and sandy dunes of Rajasthan,” said RS Kalsi executive director (M&S), Maruti Suzuki India. “Introduced in 2002, the rally fulfills the objective of providing the thrill of off-road rallying to motorsport enthusiasts.”
While there is thrill and adventure, the time-speed-distance (TSD) format promotes safe driving habits amongst participants. This year the company has tried to take the experience one notch higher by introducing flexi-format in Xplore category.
The six-day rally is being held in four categories - XTreme, NDure, XPlore & Moto. The rally will follow a flexi-route format in the Xplore category; from Delhi to Jaisalmer (Xplore Dawn) and from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur (Xplore Dusk). Both these legs will run for three days and will run independent of each other. The objective of such a format is to provide short length rally exposure and encourage bigger participation.
To enhance the excitement levels a night leg of the rally covering 200 km is planned for the second day in the Bikaner to Jaisalmer section.
This year's rally will witness champions from past rallies like Suresh Rana, Sandeep Sharma, C S Santosh and Karthick Maruthi. Bani Yadav and her navigator, Sukhbans Mann, past three-time winners of Desert Storm, will be one of the six women teams participating in the rally.
Winner of Desert Storm 2010 and 2015, Aabhishek Mishra, from Jaipur will be seen driving the Maruti Suzuki Vitara and Karthick Maruthi will be driving the Vitara Brezza.