The second leg of the 10th Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm ended with Team Thunderbolt's Suresh Rana maintaining the lead he had following the end of the first leg. The 37 strong field in the Xtreme Category (down from the original 48) negotiated two special stages between Bikaner and Jaisalmer on Wednesday.
While Rana maintained the overall lead, the honours for the fastest time on the two special stages were split between Gaurav Chiripal's Vitara and Gaurav Gill's Mahindra XUV 500. Gill is attempting to overcome a gap of over eight hours to Rana's Gypsy. Chiripal was second behind Gill in the second special stage of the day.
Chiripal was classified in eleventh following the first leg on Tuesday, so his consistent performance on the second put him into the top 10 of the rally's overall classification. Gill had been recovering from a broken suspension and a brake oil leak on the first day that afflicted the XUV 500 that is making its motorsports debut.
The car suffered further mechanical gremlins on Wednesday with Gill's car having drive on just two wheels instead of all four like the Gypsies and his own teammate Lohit Urs.
The rally continues from Jaisalmer on Thursday to Bhuj with two special stages to be covered and thirty six cars remaining in the rally with the runner-up on the first leg, Lt. Col. Subodh Verma dropping out due to mechanical failure.
At the time of publishing, the final results of the second leg had not been tallied.
(The writer's trip has been sponsored by Maruti Suzuki)