Pune: Suresh Rana, is called a ‘Raid legend’ at the Raid de Himalaya, world’s highest motorsports event, having won the rally on 10 out of 18 times.
The Rally driver from Karjan in Manali hasn’t just scaled the peaks of Himalaya, he has done exceptionally well in the sand dunes of Thar desert in ‘Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm’ as well.
The 43-year-old ‘Team Maruti Suzuki Motorsport’ driver starts the 2018 Rally, which begins on Sunday, as the double defending champion is more than ready to defend his title in Xtreme category.
“The preparations are on track, I feel I am ready to defend my title again. Certainly, it won’t be an easy task. This time we won’t have the GPS to help us, making the job for navigators much harder,” said Rana.
The experienced driver said that he and his navigator PVS Murthy will reach Delhi on Saturday as their car--Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara--was being readied by tuner Rahul Dutt.
Rana, who will be bidding to win the seventh title in the Thar Desert, feels that he will have a title winning a car at disposal with plenty at stake from the defending champion.
This year the rally will be more compact as unlike last year, Rally won’t follow the route of Noida-Hanumangarh-Bikaner-Jaisalmer, but will take Noida-Bikaner-Jaisalmer instead.
The 43-year old driver expressed that the altered route will help the drivers as it will certainly be less taxing compared to last year but things will be tricky without the help of GPS.
“The tracks for this year’s Rally haven’t changed much, but we won’t have a tiring first day as one can take good 5-6 hours of rest in Bikaner. Also, there is just one 200 km stretch as well as night driving stretch is scheduled for Day 3, so that helps a bit,” he added.
“Although these things are easy, we won’t have GPS for certain stages this year, we will have to rely on the Roadbook only, so if you are lost, you will have to go back to the spot from where you lost the plot, which is not the case with GPS, and any such mistake can cost you dearly,” he said.
He also expressed that the depending only Roadbook will make the job difficult for the navigators than the drivers as a mistake by the navigator can cost the driver some valuable time. But he has full faith in his navigator PVS Murthy, having worked together previously, he feels that the duo can once again master the sand dunes around Bikaner and ‘Golden City’ Jaisalmer.
Come Sunday, Rana and Murthy will start their quest to clinch another title in extreme conditions of the Thar Desert, the ‘Raid Legend’ will set out to defend his title, with the passion to do better every year.
He feels he must defend his crown.