Jaisalmer; May 10: Samrat Yadav (driving Toyota Fortuner) and Lhapka Tsering (driving Polaris ATV) jumped dramatically up the leaderboard to climb to the second and fourth position even as Team Sparky Garage’s Aabhishek Mishra (driving Maruti Suzuki Vitara) held on to his lead after SS6 of the Desert Storm here on Friday.
Samrat (with co-driver Kunal Kashyap; 03:00:44) and Tsering (co-driver Venu Rameshkumar; 02:53:46) recorded some of the best timings of the morning in the Extreme Category to be snapping on Mishra’s heels.
They even left APRC champion and strong contender Gaurav Gill of Team Mahindra in the shade, who slipped from his overnight second position to languish in the eighth position. Gaurav had a rough day, taking as much as 04:09:26 to complete the morning stage.
Defending champion Mishra continued to show his class, taking the least time (02:49:49) to conquer the stage and stay ahead of the field. His Sparky teammate Capt AVS Gill (Diwakar Kalia) too was in top form, moving up one place to be on the third position.
In the Moto category, TVS Racing’s Adrian Metge and Honda Motorsports’ CS Santosh continued to battle for supremacy, with the former maintaining his lead and the latter improving his time to narrow the gap.
France’ Metge was not at his fastest, needing 02:46:40 to complete SS6 on his bike, but it was good enough to keep him ahead of the pack. Santosh recorded the morning’s fastest time (02:44:30) while another TVS stalwart Abdul Wahid Tanvir ran the stage in 02:45:56 to be in the third position.
With temperatures flying past 50 degrees, 8 more bikers and 4 drivers in Extreme category fell by the wayside, exactly doubling the tally after two and a half days of acute racing.
“This is my first race after the Dakar so I was a bit rusty on the first day. I’ve finally started to enjoy being back and racing here in Rajasthan. Today was a better day for me; I rode really well,” CS Santosh remarked after his rise.
“Metge is an incredible rider. But I’m trying my best and I feel I’m pretty much there. I’ve lost the Desert Storm in the last three years while being on the top of the table. So, I know anything can happen here. Tomorrow is a long day because it starts with a 190 km stage; I’m looking forward to perform my best in that stage,” he added.