THE DESERT STORM
Way back in 2003, Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm put its first step into the undulating dunes of Thar Desert in Rajasthan. The race back then consisted of Xtreme format, where man and machine were tested to limits and one had to cover the stages in fastest time.
Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm continues to be the longest cross country rally in India and the toughest in the desert as competitors battle extreme weather conditions, navigation takes a key role owing to the terrain. The 7 day long rally covers picturesque untouched dunes and dhanis (traditional villages of Rajasthan).
Organizers :Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm is organized by country’s premier motorsport club, Northern Motorsport who are also behind the famous Maruti Suzuki Autocross and the India Baja (qualifier to Dakar 2018). The team leaves no stone unturned to make Desert Storm an unforgettable experience. The tracks are prepared months in advance after rigorous rounds of recce. The location of stages combined with the format of race, makes it a treat to watch.
Desert Storm has unmatched patronage in the country and has produced some excellent rallyists over the years. Each year it sees over 100 participants from Indian Army, Maruti Team, and many from all across the country congregate to take part in the battleground of desert. Since its inception Desert Storm has been an event to look for as the rally traverses from Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer for over 2500 km in a period of 7 days.
Desert Storm 2017:The 2016 edition saw international participation with a team from Austria taking part in Moto category (bikes). Suresh Rana from Team Maruti and CS Santosh , the fastest Indian and Dakar participant won in Moto category.
The Rally started from Noida with the 390 kms transport section to Hanumangarh in Rajasthan on 29th January.
From 30th January the Competitive Stages started from Hanumangarh onto Bikaner and Jaisalmer and finally ending at Jodhpur. The Competitive Stages ranged from 45 kms to 200 kms each over sand tracks, many sand dunes gravel, ruts, grit, stones etc there were 11 Competitive Stages in total.
The rally was running in four formats – Xtreme, Xplore, Endure and Moto. Following gives a lowdown on each one of them :
Xtreme – Open for 4×4 rally prepared vehicles, this remains the classic format of Desert Storm and challenges the particpant to the maximum as one has to cover the entire rally in fastest time.
Moto-the category is meant for bikes and tracks are same as that of Xtreme format and runs on fastest time concept. Moto in Desert Storm gets extremely challenging with sand dunes playing it tough on competitors and navigation being a key component.
Xplore (2 wheel drive) & Endure (4 wheel drive) – the two formats run on a TSD (Time-Speed- Distance) is a slow format rally is not a Race. A Road book is provided to Driver and Navigator, which has all the instructions on distances and directions, while a Speed Chart is provided to ascertain ideal speed and time they should move on. Now, the Navigator in a TSD has an important role to play, as he/ she calculates the ideal time to reach at every point as per designated speed, with which they need to move.