Featuring an unprecedented field of 263 drivers from India and abroad, the 11th Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm was flagged-off here on Monday. The six-day long rally will see the competitors battle each other from Sardarshahar to Jaipur, covering a distance of 2,200 kilometres in the process.

Drivers will have to counter the challenges posed by Thar Desert, with an almost 10 kilometre-long stretch between Bikaner and Jaisalmer expected to be the toughest.

Last year’s winner in the Xtreme category, Suresh Rana of Team Maruti, started from pole position.

“While maintaining the lead is important, I will take it easy to begin with, and then really go for it on the final two days,” said Rana, a two-time champion who is driving a Grand Vitara.

With 138 teams in fray, the race will feature, in addition to Xtreme, four other categories, namely Endure, Xplore, Moto and Quad.

The Xtreme, Moto and Quad events are decided on the basis of the fastest timing while the other two follow a Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) format.

The Moto and Quad categories are the only single-driver competitions in the race.

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