Desert Storm, Leg 1: Rana and Santosh lead after first day



Defending champions Suresh Rana and CS Santosh started the 2017 Desert Storm cross-country rally by topping the leaderboard in their respective categories.

Following yesterday’s glittering flag-off ceremony in Noida, the latest edition of Desert Storm kicked off from Hanumangarh, with rallyists covering a total distance of 255 kms en route to Bikaner.

Rana, who has made a number for himself with a record 10 wins in Raid de Himalaya, topped the opening leg in Xtreme category as he chases a fifth victory in Desert Storm.

Driving a factory-prepared Maruti Grand Vitara, the Manali-based driver (co-driver Ashwin Naik) completed the three stages in 1hr07m54s, nearly a second clear of Gaurav Chiripal (co-driver Srikanth Gowda).

Sanjay Agarwal (co-driver Shivaprakash) set the first fastest time in the opening leg, while Harpreet Bawa (co-driver Virender Kashyap) finished fourth for Team Maruti.

Desert Raiders’ Amanpreet Ahluwalia (co-driver V Venuramesh Kumar) finished less than a second behind Bawa in fifth, while Himanshu Arora (co-driver Chirag Thakur) was the highest classified finisher in the T2 sub-category in sixth.

Former Desert Storm winner Aabhishek Mishra’s outing came to an early end after the Jaipur-born driver was forced to retire with an engine failure in SS1.

Santosh tops Moto category on Hero’s debut

Meanwhile, Indian manufacturer Hero made a successful debut on home soil with Santosh topping the Moto category in Leg 1.

Santosh completed the two bike stages in 41m29s. The Bangalore-based rider was using the same Speedbrain 450 machine with which he finished 47th in Dakar earlier this month.

Santosh pipped TVS Racing’s Tanveer Abdul Wahid by just 19s, while R Nataraj completed the top-three positions in the other RTR 450.

Sanjay Kumar was fourth fastest, five seconds down on his nearest rival, while Rajendra R E was classified fifth in a smaller engine-capacity TVS bike.

Xtreme Results (Top 10):

Pos

Driver

Time

1

Suresh Rana

Ashwin Naik

1hr07m54s

2

Gaurav Chiripal

Srikanth Gowda

1hr08m45s

3

Sanjay Agarwal

Shivaprakash E

1hr12m38s

4

Harpreet Bawa

Virender Kashyap

1hr14m03s

5

Amanpreet Ahluwalia

V Venuramesh Kumar

1hr14m48s

6

Himanshi Arora

Chirag Thakur

1hr16m10s

7

Niju Padia

Nirav Mehta

1hr18m19s

8

Tervinder Jeet Singh

Jeevarathinam J

1hr18m29s

9

Sandeep Sharma

Karan Arya

1hr18m58s

10

Saazid Singha

1hr19m50s

Moto Results (Top 10):

Pos

Driver

Time

1

CS Santosh

41m29s

2

Tanveer Abdul Wahid

41m48s

3

R Nataraj

44m35s

4

Sanjay Kumar M

49m05s

5

Rajendra R E

58m03s

6

Mohan Lal Sharma

1hr02m44s

7

Sathyaraj A

1hr02m48s

8

Vishnoi Santosh

1hr02m52s

9

Vivek Sharma

1hr03m55s

10

Virendra Waghela

1hr04m01s