You know those irritating triple or quadruple speed-breaker strips that lie unmarked on our Indian highways? You’re merrily cruising along and all of a sudden, a genius road planner has decided to erect a mini Alpine range right there, unmarked, waiting for its prey. They’re known to break suspension components, backs and the cage inside which you were keeping your angry self. The point is, if you don’t like those, you’re better off not participating in what has become India’s biggest motorsports event — the Desert Storm 2011. Primarily because what you encounter for hours on end, for six days straight, is just that — arduous, spine-shattering terrain which you blast across or sometimes even trundle through, keeping a keen eye on the stopwatch, all for the holy grail — minimum penalties.
In its ninth edition this year, the Maruti-Suzuki Desert Storm was huge, with around 280 participants fielding vehicles that spanned the automotive spectrum. To give you an idea, there were two all-women teams in two Altos, a Yeti, lots of well-prepared Grand Vitaras, a couple of Pajeros and heck, even a Polaris quad bike! As for the rest of the field, there were more Gypsies here than there are at a gypsy music festival. It all began in the Rann of Kutch, a 28,000 sq km salt marsh of nothingness where you’d be lucky to see another living being in a day. And joy oh joy, we hit it late at night, with Rohin and I (a first-time navigator) marching on, right direction or not, in the fast 4x4 Time Speed Distance (TSD) class called ‘Ndure’.
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