A total of 263 rallyists from 138 teams are vying for the top honours as the 11th Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm rally was flagged off from here today.
The testing 2,200 kilometres long journey during the six-day motorsport event will begin today from Sardarshahar and culminate on February 23 at Jaipur.
The headstart for the flag-off was taken by defending champion Suresh Rana. Rana is considered the most formidable competitor in the Xtreme category, and is driving a Grand Vitara for the event.
He is eight-time winner of the Maruti Suzuki Raid De Himalaya, and has won the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm twice.
Rana said racing in the mountains and performance on the tricky, sandy desert terrain are completely different.
"While maintaining the lead is important, I will take it easy to begin with, and then really go for it on the final two days," he said.
"The challenging, tough terrain of motorsport is excellent testing ground on which the Maruti Suzuki vehicles prove their mettle before we introduce them in the value-driven Indian automobile market," said Mayank Pareek, the Managing Executive Officer of Maruti Suzuki, after flagging off the rally.
2013 is going to witness the highest ever participation of rallyists for this six-day challenge.
There are a total of 138 teams in the fray -- 52 teams in Xtreme, 34 in Endure, 29 in Xplore, 29 in Moto and 4 in Quad.
The Xtreme, Endure and Xplore teams comprise two rallyists each ? the driver and the navigator. Xtreme and MotoQuad categories are based solely on the fastest timing.
The Ndure and Xplore categories follow a Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) format.