SUZUKI WINS MARUTI ‘DESERT STORM’ RALLY

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India’s top rally-raid rider CS Santosh defended his title in the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm 2016 race at the weekend as he powered his Suzuki RMX450Z Rally to victory in the Moto class by more-than nine minutes after 800 km of racing, despite being given a 60-minute time penalty for missing a checkpoint.

Unlike his two previous wins, his third victory in the 2016 edition, at what is considered to be one of the toughest cross-country rallies in the country, came amidst drama in stages 10 and 11, that ran in the night over a combined distance of more than 100 km: Santosh, who took command of the rally right from the first leg, opened up a massive lead of 53 minutes after nine stages.

However, on the 10th stage, which was the first of the two night-stages, the Suzuki-India-supported rider failed to spot the checkpoint to get his time-card stamped because of bad visibility due to the dust kicked-up by the cars ahead of him, so was slapped with a penalty of 60 minutes for the infringement.

But Santosh went into the final two stages motivated to finish with an overall lead of more-than nine minutes to seal victory with a time of 11 hours and 19 minutes, 28-seconds to seal victory.

Santosh, who prepared for the gruelling rally by practicing on his Suzuki Quadsport Z400 quad bike, said: “The valuable practice time spent riding the Suzuki Quadsport Z400 stood me in good stead in the rally. In fact, I would recommend that cross-country riders should prepare themselves by spending some time riding this true-blooded racing quad. It’s fast and it’s demanding to ride.

“I made it difficult for myself. The time penalty for missing-out on the passage control came at the most inopportune moment. However, that’s rallying, anything can happen. I am very pleased with this win and even more with the way the Suzuki RMX450Z Rally performed in these conditions,” he added.

For the 2016 Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm, the two-time Dakar participant rode the Rally edition of the Suzuki RMX450Z, which carried special parts from the Dakar version of the motorcycle. Amongst the changes included a carbon-fibre sub-frame – that also serves as auxiliary fuel tanks – Ohlins suspension system and bigger cooling system.

For this rally, Jordi Grau, who runs the Suzuki Spain Team in the Dakar Rally, came to the event to lend his technical expertise.

Said Santosh:
“The modifications that we carried-out on the bike helped us to eke-out even more performance from the machine. It also improved the handling of the bike. I could tackle the roughest sections in this rally without any problems. I am extremely thankful to Suzuki for lending its excellent support.”

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