Santosh Vishnoi: The biker who navigated without GPS and claimed a podium place

New Delhi: In cross-country rallying, the bikers are usually the heart and soul of the rally. This is not without reason. They ride solo, into the unknown, relying on the roadbook and GPS. That calls for serious multitasking. And, do all this at high speeds. Therefore, it’s hardly a surprise that they are often the favourites with the crowds; as seen in the 2018 Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm.
So, what should a biker do if the GPS malfunctions and stops working? Some would say that in such a situation the safest option would be take the shortest route back home instead of risking getting lost in the wide expanse of the desert—the play ground of the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm. But then bikers taking part in a cross-country rally are a different breed. If taking the safer option was a priority in life, they wouldn’t be there in the first place.
The 2018 edition of the Maruti Suzuki Desert threw up one such incredible story. Santosh Vishnoi not only managed to finish the rally, but also claimed second place in the Group B category for bikes. In the second leg, the rider from Jodhpur discovered that his GPS stopped working. Stranded in the special stage, he tried everything from changing the battery to resetting the device. But the errant device showed no signs of life.
Left with no option, he started following the tyre marks of the riders ahead of him. After finishing the leg, he once again tried his luck to get his GPS working, but all his efforts failed. He even asked around, hoping for a kind soul who would lend his spare GPS, if there was one around. At that stage it seemed his rally was over. “I just wanted to complete the rally. Being from Rajasthan I understand the desert, but still navigating without a GPS is very difficult. I managed to complete the stage by following the track and the tyre marks,” said Vishnoi after completing the fifth special stage.
The next morning, however, he lined up at the start time control at the allotted time. Being a resident of the desert state, he had some innate understanding of the desert. But with a 200-km special stage ahead of Vishnoi, it would require more than intuitive knowledge of the sea of sand to finish the timed section. Vishnoi, undeterred by the handicap pressed on to complete the longest stage of the rally, following the tyre marks of the riders ahead of him. Once, Vishnoi surmounted the biggest challenge of this year’s Martui Suzuki Desert Storm, he twisted the throttle to complete the rally and claim a podium spot in the Group B class.


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Since the year 1998, Maruti Suzuki Motorsports has been fuelling the adrenaline of adventurous rally drivers and has been promoting motorsports in India for 18 years. The Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm Rally this year, saw record-breaking participation, bringing together more than 200 rally enthusiasts from India and abroad. This also included the highest number of female participants (13 participants including three all-women teams) in a rally in India. The seven-day extreme event covered a distance of 2,100 km from the National Capital Region to Jodhpur, and was divided into four categories — XTreme, NDure, XPlore and Moto — enabling enthusiasts to use vehicles of their choice, suitable to the corresponding terrain and format

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