Rana in lead after first day; Gill falters

Suresh Rana of Team Maruti led after day one of the 11th Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm rally while favourite Gaurav Gill incurred heavy penalty in the first stage.

The Desert Storm, which was flagged off from Delhi on Monday night, will go through the Thar Desert and the entire span of the dune country. It will run through the wild outback of Bikaner and Jaisalmer and traverse 2,200 kilometres to end in Jaipur Feb 23.

Out of a total 52 teams in Rally Xtreme, which is all about top speed, only 36 are left in the fray. Gill’s Mahindra XUV 500 developed serious mechanical issues in the night stage which set off from Sardarshahar in Churu district on Monday night. As other rallyists sped on, Gill was delayed considerably, and had to incur two hours of penalty.

Jayesh Desai, the Clerk of the Course for Xtreme and Motoquad, said that while  technically Gill is still in the race, he has been heavily sanctioned.

If he joins the rally on day two, Gill will be given a start an hour later than the rest of the competitors. The other notable drop-downs of the day are the two teams from Australia of the ‘Aussie Sand Surfers’, led by Niaz Ali, and Gaurav Chiripal.

In the Enduro Category, which follows the Xtreme route but follows the Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) format, Somdev Chand of Team Maruti and K Prasad also of Team Maruti are leading on Day One.

Raj Singh Rathore of Jaipur, riding the Polaris RZR 800, is leading in the Quad category.
In the two-wheel section, Mohan Lal Sharma of Jaipur met with an accident and fractured his leg. He was taken to a hospital.

The first competitive stage of the event for Rally Xtreme and Rally Ndure, which ran through the night, saw many twists and turns for even seasoned rallyists.

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