Defending champion Aabhishek Mishra dominated each leg of the gruelling Desert Storm 2019 to claim the coveted title for the fourth time. The 30-year-old from Jaipur is now the third driver to defend the Desert Storm title, after Sunny Sidhu and Suresh Rana. Driving for Team Sparky's Garage, Aabishek with co-driver Srikanth Gowda, finished in a time of 9 hours 21 minutes and 45 seconds.
Chandigarh's Samrat Yadav and co-driver Kunal Kashyap finished second. Behind the wheel of a Toyota Fortuner, Samrat showed remarkable poise and consistency over the scorching four days and finished with a time of 9:41:34. Rounding off the podium was Arunachal Pradesh’s Lakhpa Tsering (co-driver V Venu Rameshkumar) driving his Polaris RZR 1000. The Army Team, returning to competitive rally after a long hiatus, saw Capt AVS Gill (co-driver Diwakar Kalia) claim the fourth place in the Extreme Category. Meanwhile Aman Katoch (Siddhartha Nandal), Parth Bharadwaj (Mohit Bisht) and Sanjay Jadon (Sahil Dua) took the third, fourth and fifth places in the Endure Category, respectively.
Team Mahindra Adventure’s Gaurav Gill dropped to the eighth position after his XUV500’s all-wheel-drive system failed on second last leg of the competition. The WRC ace and APRC winner made a comeback finishing the SS9 and SS10 in the least amount of time. But after losing more than an hour in the previous stage, Gill finished with an overall time of 10:37:45.
Among the other key awards, the Team Trophy (Xtreme Category) was won by Team Army Adventure Wing, Team Trophy (Moto) was given to TVS Racing, Team Trophy (Ndure) was bagged by Team Army Adventure Wing. The Coupe des Dames (Best Female Contender) Awards were claimed by Khyati Mody in the Xtreme category, Aishwarya Pissay in the Moto category and to Capt. Abhilasha Singh in the Ndure category.
“This is an incredibly special win for us,” said Aabhishek Mishra, who drove his Maruti Vitara through the treacherous 2500km haul. “I have won the title in the four-wheel category four times and once in the motorbike category. But this year was the toughest due to the conditions and also because of the competition, which attracted all the top drivers, teams and manufacturers in the country,” he added.