Q&A with Winners on 2 Wheels [Bikes] @ MS Desert Storm - 2013

Picture courtesy - Nitin Yadav

Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm - 2013, can be easily dubbed as a sub-Dakar in the Indian territory. Here the competitive endurance rally is held on the sand dunes of the never-ending Thar desert in the princely state of Rajasthan, India. For the mountainous part of the pro-Dakar we have the Raid-de-Himalaya that happens about 9-10 months later during October over one of the most dreaded gravel roads winding around the Mighty Himalayas peaks, and for that we have to wait a little longer.

Desert Storm is held during the late winter, as the desert is set best to race during time of the year with better weather conditions. With title sponsor being Maruti Suzuki, the rally is organised by Northern Motorsport, headed by Mr.Raj Kapoor, and  many more officials, plus a huge number of volunteers.

Vijay Parmar receiving his trophy, MS Desert Storm 2013
Vijay Parmar was the man to beat for the trailing lot on 2 wheels, who lead the rally until the last day. After losing vital minutes, he finished a mere 23 seconds down the leader. How the action unfolded, hear right from himself in the below Q's, to which he answered in the best way left us visualizing the narration.
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Q1 | Firstly, congratulations on your overall second place finish and first in Group-A. You were leading until the penultimate day, but looks like you lost precious time to the young rider, Mohit. What really happened in the last day and the days before to it?

VP |    Thanks for the wishes firstly. 

Picture courtesy - Nitin Yadav
    I led, to my great surprise, from the first day to the last, losing top spot to Mohit Verma by 23 seconds finally. The first day was incident free for me and I had a lead over the 2nd spot Virendra Waghela of almost 2 minutes. Mohit was almost 10 minutes in arrears on that leg. 

Leg 2 was to be the turning point for me on the Desert Storm. SS5 went impeccably right and I pulled out a further 2 minutes on Mohit taking the lead upto 11 minutes. SS6 the long sandy stage (95kms) was the one where I had my first serious fall. Powering through a left hander in the deep rutted sand the bikes rear wheel crossed over the central berm [created by passing of the cars], leaving the front wheel in the left rut and the rear in the right. The resulting highside threw me and I cracked my collarbone on landing. Riding the balance 65 kms was the toughest ride of my life. My right arm had lost its strength, the pain was unbearable and with the sand the deepest on the rally, lost about 5 minutes to Mohit on the stage. The X-Ray image taken at Jaisalmer confirmed the clavicle fracture and we thought the rally was over. However since we had completed the leg we decided to wait and see.

The team was keen that with painkillers I should try and start Leg 3 and see whether I could bear the pain and ride in order to complete the event. Leg 3 was started and with Voveran [pain-killer] shots being administered, I managed to complete the day without a fall and still managed to hold on to the lead by 3 minutes. The high point of this day was the dry-lake-bed run where I managed 161 kph for a constant 6 minutes.

Mr.Parmar tackling a water splash.
Leg 4 was where Mohit was confident of taking the lead. SS11 (Thar Xpress) was where he made his bid to go by. However the stage was fast and pain management good, so I actually made 15 seconds on Mohit. The next stage SS12 was the stage I had crashed on while doing Leg 2. The sand was now deeply rutted by the passage of cars and a nighmare for the bikes. My plan was simple, a fall would end my rally so I had to take it very easy. After 20 kms into the stage and on a left hander a branch of a tree smashed into my helmet catching the peak squarely. Snapped my head back and swept me clean off the bike. Fortunately the neck brace prevented damage but I still managed to land on my hurt arm.

Racing to the Finish, Vijay Parmar
After that the rest of Leg 4 was just pain and more pain. Surprisingly, I was still ahead of Mohit by 3.17 secs at the start of the final short stage. Now my luck ran out completely. Nearing the end of the stage, made the stage very tricky, resultant of over-night rain yesterday. In one instance I overshot a tight right hander, the bike corrected and I powered it through some bushes to regain my way back to the track and as I went through the bushes I found myself flying right over a freshly dug up well !!! The front wheel hit the opposite edge of the open well and somersaulted the bike, fortunately, over the well. I was thrown 10 ft away and landed again on my injured shoulder. The pain was unbearable at this point and I couldn't feel or move the arm for some time. A few moments later, with great pain & stress managed to bring the bike back on its wheels, restarted it and continued, unfortunately at the cost of the rally lead. I lost first spot by 23 seconds on the last 10 kms of a 2000 kms long rally.
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Q2 | We all know how tough the rally & rally-raid events are for the bikers. Especially for your age, how did you manage to top the rest of the field?

VP |    Experience, determination, the best bike on the rally - KTM 450 EXC 6 days- and the terrible realisation that most of the field could not ride competitively. Also I had the best navigation equipment aboard and never lost the way more than a few metres. Finally the best backup and service team in the entire event.
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Q3 | We recall in a picture of you getting a shot [of pain-killer?] during the event. For a 2,200km event, a fall here or there is almost inevitable, so did you encounter any fall and injury, or any such sort?

VP |    Several falls, the most telling are already documented above.
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Q4 | It was not the series Indian production bike that you rode, would you like to introduce us more about your ride, and how did you manage to procure, prepare and most important 'practice and where'?

VP |    The KTM 450 EXC is the is one of the worlds finest machines for this type of event. The bike was taken for practise to the really serious dunes in Jaisalmer for 3 days. It was far more capable than the rider. Modifications included a long range tank, extra lights and a fairing screen to deflect wind at high speeds. GPS and Tripy mounts completed the mods.
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Q5 | It wouldn't be right if we don't expose you as the chieftain of one of the world's most toughest rally-raid event, Raid-de-Himalaya! With such rich experience and passion towards the sport. It is not really a big surprise [for us atleast] that you were self-motivated or even better said, yearning to compete. How did your family and friends react to your decision?

VP |    My family has always supported my periodic insanity. Friends filled in and whenever I had any self doubt they brushed it aside. I had always commented that the biker standards were quite low and after this experience I stand vindicated. 
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Q6 | Any more planned/unplanned outings in the near future?

VP |    Expeditions yes. Competition No.
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Q7 | Coming to the organising challenges, how much do you rate on the improvement [to last year] and are you happy with it in DS'13?

VP |    DS 13 was well organised. They need to work out the ambulance evacuations using 4X4 ambulances every 20 kms.
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Q8 | With the expanding economy and the interests of the next-gen influenced by the developed countries, where do you think the sport will head? A new era of rally flavour or will it become more track oriented with the new F1 track?

VP |    Sport will collapse if sponsors are not forthcoming. Track will win over the course.
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Q9 | Don't you think we are running out of enough proper gravel roads [away from dense population] to conduct rally / raid events elsewhere and will have to stick to the desert or the uninhabitable, the great himalayas?

VP |    Yes our habitat is shrinking. We are constantly fighting for space.
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Q10 | What words of wisdom would you like to give out to the new generation motor-heads?

VP |    Get the best equipment. Commit time to practise. Safety comes first.
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Q11 | Is it an undeniable fact that the sport is not helping in tackling the dreaded air-pollution, if not the sound/noise part [which we all love to hear to the music]. Do you think the motorsport will head in the right direction [if not worse] in the coming days?

VP |    The sport has not even contributed 0.001 percentage towards air-pollution. Maruti makes more cars in a day than all the rally cars put together ! More noise is made by a thunderstorm than all the rally cars in India. So lets put stuff in perspective. More noise is emitted by the trains at New Delhi railway station in a day than all the rallies put together!
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Q12 | Coming to the Raid-de-himalaya, how are preparations going to be and anything new to see this year?

VP |    Still to start:-)
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    Thanks for taking your precious time Mr. Vijay Parmar and in replying to us patiently. You know what?! Cannot say about others, but atleast we are shying away with shame after learning about your age! Seriously!! And finally "We wish you all the best for your future endeavours"

Adding more...

Now for the top podium finisher!!

Mohit Verma was the eventual winner of the super-hot Desert Storm - 2013, Rally. This 23 year young rider from Chandigarh, India was not an easy to beat rider from the past couple of years. With his young age, it is his skill and courage that has put many experienced riders to think atleast many-times before even think of neglecting the young champ. He has already found a successful formula in some very tough events like Raid-de-Himalaya and the Mughal Rally.

Lets listen to him, though he has sought to only minimal words for the answer, it sure sounds enough too!


Q1 | Firstly congrats on your win in DS'13. We would like to know how tough was the event for the bikers and what preparations went in this year's Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm?

MV | Thanks for the wishes! For bikers, the event was really tough as it had long stages, with very loose sand especially after the cars went through before us. This is the very first time that I rode over sand. For this event I had done some practice-recce in Jaipur earlier.
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Q2 | Until the pen-ultimate day, it was Mr.Vijay Parmar leading the bikes, and how exactly did u manage to squeeze enough time to beat the veteran?

MV | Chasing Vijay Parmar Sir was fun. I started on 3rd, and on Day-2, I was in 2nd but the difference was 10 minutes. Then by the passing days, the gap came down to 3 mins. On the last day, I rode like crazy to cover the gap and finally succeeded in securing the top place on the podium.
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Q3 | What would you like to say about your latest bike [KTM Duke], which has given you a few successful outings in the recent event and which were your previous bikes? A few words of them would be nice too.

MV | KTMduke is best Indian machine I had until now. Engine is really powerful and has quick acceleration. We can actualy compete with older machines, but I love this new bike of mine. Its engine especially. Earlier I had unicorn wich had superb handling, then came the Hero Karizma that was the 2nd best bike.
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Q4 | What are the events that are in your 'to-do' list?

MV | Now myself and my team are looking forward to SJOBA, Mughal Rally, Dakshin Dare and the Raid-de-Himalaya.
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Q5 | Now after bagging multiple back-to-back top trophies, we would like to know what is your success formula?

MV | It comes with all hardwork and passion that makes me win. so I want to continue in the same track.
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Q6 | Any tips for the upcoming talents?

MV | My message for the newbies is to ride hard and ride safe. Do as much as practice as you can manage to.
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    Thank you for your time and reply Mr.Mohit. We wish you all the best for your future Rallies to come!

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