Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm enters penultimate stage

Bikaner, Feb 26 (PTI) The combination of Harinder Bawaand Parminder continued to lead the Maruti Suzuki Desert Stormas it entered its penultimate stretch with a total distance of417kms covered through the day.

This included two special stages - a 157km ''Big Max''stretch in Pokhran and another 49 km ''Thar Express'' stage atthe Thar Desert.

Harinder and Parminder of Chandigarh, driving a MarutiSuzuki Gypsy, continued to lead for a third day in row.

While the track at Pokhran was largely gravel with bitsof slippery sand, the one at Thar was a mix of slippery Sand,hard surfaces and a bit of tarmac thrown in to connectstretches.

In the Xtreme category while Harpreet/Parminder continuedtheir lead, there was a upset at the second and third spotswith Sunny Siddhu/Rohit overtaking Raj Virendra Singh/Gunpreetwho had retained the second spot for last two days.

Harpreet Singh Bawa/Parminder are at the top withcumulative timing of 10.42.20, hrs but Sunny Sidhu/RohitMichael are just 10 minutes behind with 10.53.19 hrs.

Raj Virendra Singh/Gunpreet are now a distant third with11.05.29 hrs, but the three seem to be set for an eventualpodium finish.

In the bikes and Moto Quad segment, Jesdavid leads afterleg four with a total penalty of 09.14.16. He is closelyfollowed by R Nataraj, who is seven minutes behind. Bhalla RamSuthar is breathing down the duo''s neck with a difference ofjust over a minute from the second slot and stands at 09.22.43hrs.

The rally now moves to the last three special stages onway to Delhi. The rally traverses a gruelling 3500 km throughAhmedabad, the Rann of Kutch, Bhuj, Jaisalmer, Pokhran, Tharand Bikaner before reaching Delhi on February 27.

The event, which has more than 280 participants thisyear, the highest so far, is among the toughest and mostchallenging motorsports events worldwide.

Results � Leg 1:

XTreme Category � Harpreet Singh Bawa/ Parminder:10.42.20 hrs, Sunny Sidhu/Rohit Michael: 10.53.19 hrs, RaiVirendra Singh/Gunpreet � 11.05.29 hrs.

Bikes/Moto Quad - Jesdavid: 09.14.16 hrs, R Nataraj:09.21.07 hrs. Bhalla Ram Suthar: 09.22.43 hrs.

Ndure Category: - Takale Sanjay Ram/Rahul Sancheti:0.04.27 hrs, SK Prasad/Shankar Anand: 00.04.59 hrs, KrishnaHB/K Pradeep Kumar: 00.06.47 hrs.

XPlore Category - Mukul Budhia /Amit Patel: 00.06.44 hrs,Tejinder Singh/G Raja Natarajan: 00.07.24 hrs, RakeshBhatia/Jaideep Lunilal: 00.16.35 hrs.

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