CS Santosh extends lead in Desert Storm cross-country rally
Jaisalmer, Feb 28 (IANS): C.S. Santosh, riding a Suzuki RMX 450, stretched his lead to one hour in the Moto class while Abhishek Mishra (co-driver P.V.S. Murthy) of Team Speedsport moved to the front in the XTreme category after overnight leader Suresh Rana (Parminder Kaur) retired with engine failure in the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm cross-country rally here late Friday.
The Leg 3 of XTreme category had three competitive stages of 71 km, 38 km and 70 km and the stages claimed more victims, one of them being former champion Rana in a Grand Vitara for Team Maruti.
Rana's retirement left Mishra in the lead with a 22-minute cushion over teammate Harpreet Bawa (Ashwin Naik) while Niju Padia (Shekhar V.) in a Mitsubishi Pajero was another one hour adrift.
Of the 40 cars that took the starter's flag in New Delhi earlier this week, only 22 are in the fray as the desert terrain proved a tad too much for these vehicles, most of which failed to negotiate the sands of Thar Desert.
Bengaluru's Santosh was a class apart in the Moto category as he looked certain to retain the title, having left the competition way behind. The 31-year-old clocked six hours, 27 minutes, 38 seconds, ahead of two KTM riders Jes David (7:27:30) and Mohit Verma (7:34:41).
In the NDure category, motorists travelled the same distance as XTreme entrants but in Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) format. In a dramatic development, Vishnu Singh (Aditya Anthony) in a Grand Vitara, moved to the top from overnight third with a penalty of 2:12:06.
Ajgar Ali (Mohd. Mustafa), also in a Vitara, were running second position with a penalty of 2:22:49 hours, followed by Somdeb Chanda (Neerav Mehta) in 2:30:55.
In XPlore category, national champions Karthik Maruti and Sankar Anand of Erode continued to lead but only five minutes separated the top-three with Shubham Midha (Abhinav Kalra) of Delhi in second and Kolkata's Anubhab De (Chandan Sen) third.
Provisional classification (After Leg 3):
XTreme: Abhishek Mishra/P.V.S. Murthy (Team Speedsport, Grand Vitara) 1 (11 hrs, 25 mins, 55 secs); Harpreet Bawa/Ashwin Naik (Team Speedsport, Grand Vitara) 2 (11:47:53); Niju Padia/Shekhar V. (Mitsubishi Pajero) 3 (12:53:42).
Moto-Quad: C.S. Santosh (Team Maruti, Suzuki RMX 450) 1 (6:27:38) 1; Jes David (KTM Duke 390) 2 (7:27:30); Mohit Verma (KTM Duke 390) 3 (7:34:41).
NDure: Vishnu Singh/Adithya Anthony (Grand Vitara) 1 (2:12:06); Ajgar Ali/Mohd. Mustafa (Grand Vitara) 2 (2:22:49); Somdeb Chanda/Neerav Mehta (Maruti Gypsy) 3 (2:30:55).
XPlore: Karthik Maruti/Sankar Anand (Maruti SX4) 1 (6:31:00); Subham Midha/Abhinav Kalra (Maruti SX4) 2 (6:33:00); Anubhab De/Chandan Sen (Maruti SX4) 3 (6:35:00).