Satish Gopalkrishnan and Savera D’Souza, the Bangalore husband-wife pair, have redefined teamwork in motorsport by being the only couple to consistently win rallies across the country. Most recently, the duo topped the Rally Ndure (TSD) category at the 12th Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm.

While India’s champion TSD rallyists could not find a strong footing at the Desert Storm, they were able to race on a sure pitch from the opening day – this, then, was a triumph based less on flamboyance than on endeavour and strategy. From the first stage of the six-day motorsport marathon, Satish and Savera worked on building up a strong lead and regularly left their competition far behind – by the time the last stage got under way, there was little chance of them getting caught.

Top honours in the Desert Storm made for a welcome change after a string of runner-up finishes in 2013, including in the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm, the Mughal Rally, and the Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare. So what made the difference in the sands of the Thar Desert? “The X factor,” said Satish, matter-of-factly. “Sometimes it makes you win. Sometimes nothing seems right.”

b'lore duo
Satish Gopalkrishnan and Savera D’Souza, winners of the Rally Ndure category in the 2014 Desert Storm, driving a Grand Vitara for Team Maruti Suzuki

The 12th Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm 2014 got under way in Delhi over the weekend, setting the stage for Gaurav Gill and Suresh Rana to test their wits against each other, in a highly-anticipated Battle Royale in the sands of Rajasthan. Over the next eight days, the who’s who of Indian motorsport will be racing for top honours in India’s “mini-Dakar”.

Local man Rana will be aiming for a hat-trick of titles at the Desert Storm, and his sternest challenge will come from two APRC champions – Delhi’s Gill and Malaysia’s Karamjit Singh. The rally will traverse a gruelling 2,200 kilometres across the Thar Desert – through the harsh terrain of Sardarshahar, Bikaner and Jaisalmer – before ending in Jaipur.

The Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm has graduated from a single-category event in 2003 to one run in four categories – Xtreme, Moto, Ndure and Xplore. Competitors in the Rally Xtreme (4X4) and Rally Moto (motorcycles) categories are judged on the fastest times, while the Rally Ndure and Rally Xplore categories follow the time-speed-distance format.

Desert Storm 2013 winner Suresh Rana (Team Maruti)
Desert Storm 2013 winner Suresh Rana (Team Maruti)