Ultimate Desert Challenge – Kabir Waraich takes home his third title
The fifth edition of one of the toughest rallies in India, the Ultimate Desert Challenge was flagged on February 1, 2019. The rally will be held in the tricky sand dunes and trails of Bikaner, Rajasthan. It was divided into two sub-events, ‘Off-road’ and ‘Xcross’. The off-road format featured challenging loops in sandy trails that would eventually lead to steep dunes. This format was suitable for the 4x4s only. The ‘Xcross’ format was a well-planned circuit which was a mix of sand and gravel. The ‘Xcross’ format was 21 km long with eight laps to cover.
Through 12 Special Stages, UDC Offroad will test the driving & vehicle recovery skills of the competitors in extreme desert. Points are awarded to competitors who successfully complete an SS and penalties are incurred for not starting or finishing an SS or for not adhering to the event rules & regulations. The team with the maximum points at the end of the 12 Special Stages will be announced as the overall winner of UDC Offroad.
Leg 1 – SS1 to SS3 (Shiv Bari Village)
The first three stages of the rally were held on February 1, 2019 and featured challenging loops along with steep dunes to conquer. Piloting a Polaris RZR, Kabir Waraich and Amber Udasi put on a great performance in their Polaris UTV, while RFC Champion, Gurmeet Virdi and Kunaal Kashyap managed to put in the second best time.
Kabir finished the first special stage almost 19 seconds ahead of Gurmeet who lost considerable pace in the dunes. On the last stage of the day, Kabir carried the same pace, finishing seven seconds ahead of Gurmeet, while Devendra Singh Rathore and co-driver Vinay Bhatnagar finished a minute behind settling for third place.
Leg 2 – SS4 to SS9
The Polariz RZR teams were a more than 30 seconds faster than the rest of the lot. The Gypsys were the only ones that could catch. Gurmeet along with co-driver Kunaal managed to put in a faster time on the fourth stage, almost 20 seconds ahead of Kabir who was in the lead. Kabir then picked up pace to stay on top of the leaderboard. While the Polaris UTV’s were leading the pack, gagandeep Gill and Amandeep Godara were putting in great efforts in their Maruti Gypsy, clocking stage times only a few seconds slower than the Polaris. The team of Kabir and Amber were leading throughout the stages in their Polariz UTV, which would eventually earn them the win in the ‘Off-road’ format and then a win in the Polaris RZR Racing class.
The night stages, SS8 and SS9 were quite challenging thanks to the cold weather and low visibility. For the Gypsys, Vikas Tanwar and Rajit Kadian were also putting on a good show. While Gagandeep and Amandeep were setting fast times in their Maruti Gypsy, Kabir and Gurmeet were setting even faster times in the Polaris.
Leg 3 – SSS and Xcross
On the third day of the UDC, it was time for the Xcross stages which were held in the village of Mehrasar in Bikaner. The 21km stage featured a dirt track loop with high speed sections. The faster cars were at their advantage here as there were no dunes to conquer. Gaurav Chiripal and Karan Arya finished the eight lap dart in close to 2 hours and 43 minutes. Gaurav was awarded the ‘Ajay Bambi Memorial Award’ for this achievement. He was closely followed by Bikaner’s Devendra Singh Rathore (co-driver Vinay Bhatnagar) at the second spot, who clocked the finish box at cumulative timings of 3 hours 1 minutes and 36 seconds in his Mahindra Thar. The third spot at UDC X-Cross was claimed by Gurugram’s Vikas Tanwar (co-driver Rajit Kadian) with cumulative timings of 3 hours 48 minutes 8 seconds in his Maruti Gypsy.
After successfully defending his title, Kabir said, “It’s a feeling that’s difficult to explain in words! It’s a hat-trick of wins at the UDC and I couldn’t have been happier. This particular win did not come easy the competition was very tight and scheduling was such that we were continuously running back-to-stages. I was feeling sleep-deprived at times but somehow I kept pushing myself and good results followed. I would like to thank my co-driver Amber without who this win wouldn’t have been possible.”