The opening leg of the 2017 Maruti-Suzuki Desert Storm concluded as the competitors made their way through three special stages as the rally convoy made their way from Hanumangarh to Bikaner in Rajasthan. Suresh Rana and co-driver Ashwin Naik are in the lead of the Xtreme category from Gaurav Chiripal/Srikanth Gowda by 51 seconds. Both are driving Grand Vitaras as is third placed Sanjay Agarwal/Shivprakash E who is a further 3:53 minutes behind Chiripal.
The Moto category only contested two special stages today, however, after which Hero MotoSports' CS Santosh is leading TVS Racing's Tanveer Abdul Wahid by just 19 seconds. Wahid's teammate R. Nataraj is just under three minutes behind him. The duo are riding the RTR 450 FX while Santosh is riding the Hero-Speedbrain 450 Rally.
The leg ran largely incident free with no major accidents and with the distances manageable for the experienced drivers and riders in the field. The loose sand did catch out some of the less powerful vehicles, especially riders, some of whom struggled to underway after the start of the first special stage of the day.
Tomorrow's second leg will take the rally convoy from Bikaner to Jaisalmer. Along the way will be three more special stages with a total distance of 138 kilometers.
All stages are at least 40km long and the field is expected to spread out further in the classification after their completion.