Desert Storm champion R Natraj leads a TVS 1-2 in the Ultimate Bike section after the fifth day of the cross-country rally.
Bhor: The champion pair of Suresh Rana and Ashwin Naik may have won several titles together including India’s toughest Raid de Himalaya, but never before the fight came as close as in the 2017 Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare Cross-country rally that for the first time entered Maharashtra and culminated in Pune before the final stages at Bhor.
Rana was just 38 seconds ahead of challenger Samrat Yadav after having started the Day 1 on the back-foot when his car got stuck into the stage. Gradually he nursed his way up and assumed lead on the third day and maintained it till the end.
In the Bhor stages, the longest of all, Rana swept his Grand Vitara through the gravel terrain in village Pasure over 70.88 kilometres for one stage. The same distance was repeated to complete the second stage of the day in one of the trying conditions with unremitting rains adding to the mystique of rallying.
Rana and Naik cut under one hour in both the stages to record one of the fastest times to completely dominate Samrat, who otherwise carried the advantage of driving a lighter Maruti Gypsy..
Rana completed the first stage in 57 minutes 32 seconds and the second in much faster time of 57:11.
This gave him an aggregate of 10 hours 11 minutes and 26 seconds to cleanly beat Samrat Yadav and SN Nizami (10:14:52) and the pair of Sandeep Sharma and Karan Arya (10:24:17), also driving a Gypsy.
Harvinder Bhola and Karan Aukta, who had fallen behind afterDay 4, recoverd well in the longish Bhor stages to post an aggregate of 10:39:02 and finish fourth ahead of Gaurav Chiripal and Manoj Vaidya (10:41:34).
Natraj leads TVS 1-2
The reigning Desert Storm champion R Natraj of Team TVS Racing won the Ultimate Bike category in a show of total dominance.
Natraj was beaten on the first day by privateer Sanjay Kumar, but riding a TVS Apache RTR 450FX, the champion rider took over from Sanjay on
Day 2 and since then maintained his clear lead.
On the final day, Natraj further cemented his place and won the title ahead of his teammate Abdul Waheed Tanveer. Sanjay Kumar had to settle for the third position.