C S Santosh ahead by 24 minutes in Desert Storm
Jaisalmer, Feb 26 (IANS): Defending champion C.S. Santosh, riding a Suzuki RMX 450, opened a commanding 24-minute lead at the end of Leg 1 in the 13th Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm cross-country Rally here.
Santosh, the first and only Indian to compete and complete the world's toughest rally -- the Dakar -- last month, was in a league of his own as he conquered the sands of Thar Desert that proved to be the graveyard for many a vehicle.
Trailing Santosh, who clocked two hours, 12 minutes and 44 seconds, were two KTM Duke 390 riders Jes David (2:36:36) and Mohit Verma (2:45:13) in the provisional Overall classification Wednesday night.
Reflecting on his performance so far, Santosh said: "Both Dakar and Desert Storm are equally challenging in terms of landscape and terrain. As a motor enthusiast, it gives me immense joy to conquer the Thar Desert. Challenging as it may be, I am looking forward to the next stages."
Meanwhile, in the XTreme category, overnight leader Abhishek Mishra (co-driver P.V. Srinivasa Murthy) was docked a penalty of three minutes and consequently slipped to second place behind former champion Suresh Rana (Parminder Kaur) of Team Maruti while Harpreet Bawa (Ashwin Naik) kept their third spot at the end of Special Stage 3.
The harsh desert terrain, marked by towering sand dunes and constantly shifting sand, claimed many victims on the Special Stages located around Jaitpur and Bikaner, covering 350 km before proceeding to Jaisalmer for a night halt.
Moto-Quad (After Leg 1): C.S. Santosh (Team Maruti, Suzuki RMX 450) 1 (2hrs, 12mins, 44secs) 1; Jes David (KTM Duke 390) 2 (02:36:36); Mohit Verma (KTM Duke 390) 3 (02:45:13); Vijay Parmar (KTM 450 EXC) 4 (03:05:45); Nitinjit Singh Bawa (KTM Duke 200) 5 (03:20:30).
Xtreme (After Leg 2): Suresh Rana / Parminder Kaur (Team Maruti, Grand Vitara) 1 (05:30:34); Abhishek Mishra / P.V.S. Murthy (Team Speedsport, Grand Vitara) 2 (05 hrs, 31mins, 47secs); Harpreet Bawa / Ashwin Naik (Team Speedsport, Grand Vitara) 3 (05:48:51).
Ndure (TSD format - After Leg 1): Somdeb Chanda / Neerav Mehta (Maruti Gypsy, Penalty 03mins, 28secs) 1; Vishnu Singh / Adithya Anthony (Grand Vitara, 08:33) 2; Ajgar Ali / Mohd Mustafa (Grand Vitara, 10:20) 3.