Team Thunderbolt's Suresh Rana held a 36 minute lead over Gaurav Chiripal at the start of the final stage of the third leg of the 10th Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm. Chiripal's Vitara made its way up the field to trail Rana's Gypsy as the rally entered its seventh stage at twilight on Thursday.
Joining Chiripal in the top 20 of the rally's most recent classification was the other Vitara of Pardeep Gupta as both cars ran problem-free in comparison to the older Vitara XL7s that ran into some trouble or another including the vehicle of last year's winner Sunny Sidhu who was forced to pull out of the rally.
The factory backed XUV 500s of Lohit Urs and Gaurav Gill continued to complete the days stages in the car's maiden motorsports event although Gill has been driving with what he claims is an unmodified suspension and just front wheel drive due to a problem with his car's four wheel drive system. While Urs was classified within the top 20 at the start of the seventh stage, Gill was towards the tail end of the classified runners but had managed to win the second stage on the previous lag of the rally.
At the time of publishing, the results at the end of the seventh special stage had not been tallied.
(The writer's trip has been sponsored by Maruti-Suzuki)