Prado from Dubai, Toyoto Hilux add attraction to Desert Storm

Bikaner: As the drivers toiled hard to negotiate Bikaner`s sandy tracks during the first three stages of the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm, two customized cars -- 1976 Prado model from Dubai and Toyota Hilux -- have added sheen to the 10th edition of the Rally with their specially designed suspensions and engine re-maps.

Prado, the only international car in the rally driven by businessmen Sanjay Bhandari and Kavi Chotrani, for the first time underwent the experience of rallying in India while negotiating the tough off-road terrains.

"I am born and brought up in Sri Lanka but now settled in Dubai. I got the car from Dubai for participation in the Desert Storm. It`s for the first time we are rallying in India. My dear friend Bhandari persuaded me to come here and participate and it`s been a challenging experience for me so far," said Chotrani.

"I used to participate in the Fun-drive rallies in Dubai but this for the first time I am experiencing the hard core rallying and believe me it`s breathtaking, My car is FIA approved and the actual cost of customizing the car was higher than the cost of buying it," he said.

Chotrani, who participated in the first stage of the Rally, `DARK KNIGHT` from Sardarshahar to Lunkaransar near here, said that it was a nice leg barring few hiccups.

"Right rallying was difficult than the day races. Visibility is a challenge and I believe there is a need for improvement in that. We missed the route at one point," he added.

Toyota Hilux, driven by Zain Bilgrami and navigated by Sandeep, said they got the car done in Mumbai especially for the off-roading experience.

"It`s for the first time we are using the car for the rallying purpose. We have it done for the off-roading experience. We are fond of motorsports and that love brought us here. The rally is very challenging," said Sandeep.

"We have done few rallies in South and our is the toughest car in the fleet. It`s got superior suspension, exhaust, 2.7 litre diesel engine, engine remap, special tyres, brakes and winch in the front," he added.

The car, co-navigated by Darshan, is a 2008 model and brought at a cost of undisclosed amount. They also sought the cancellation of the night stage owing to some problem in the official route map.

"We missed our turns because of map fault. Lots of rallyists got stuck in the stand. It would be better to cancel the stage," said Darshan. The rally will take off for Jaisalmer tomorrow in the wee hours.