Santosh to lead India charge at Dakar Rally - GulfToday

Santosh to lead India charge at Dakar Rally


CS Santosh will compete in the Motor Bike category at the Dakar Rally.

CS Santosh, India’s no. 1 off-road and cross-country rally pilot, is well aware of his limitations and is not setting any unachievable goals for himself for next year’s Dakar Rally.

All that he is looking for is to complete the race and whatever number he finishes there, he will be content with that. Santosh had finished 34th in his debut season in Dakar in 2018, but suffered a nasty crash to bow out of the 2019 edition.

Santosh, Joaquim Rodrigues, Oriol Mena and Paulo Goncalves will be Hero MotoSports’ four-member team for next year’s Dakar Rally.

“Hero has been a great team for me and I have grown over the last few years with them to become the rider I am today. We are focused on doing our best at the races and also contributing to the development of exciting new products for the Indian market and growing the sport that we love so much,” Santosh said.

Talking about his preparations for the Dakar Rally slated to take place between Jan.5 and 17 in Jeddah, Santosh told IANS that he has been making improvements in various aspects of his life to be ready for the race in Saudi Arabia.

“It will be special mainly because this epic race moves closer to home and for me it has the potential to now to attract more interest from this part of the world which saw limited participation and little interest,” he said.

“I have made notes over the years and made improvements in various aspects of my life to be ready to race in Saudi come January.”

In a career spanning 15 years and counting, Santosh won the Desert Storm for three consecutive years from 2014 through 2016 and placed second in 2019. This year, he also became the first sportsperson in India to climb up the ladder -- a top 5 finish -- at an International Rally Raid.

“2019 Dakar was to a have step in the right direction for me. Personally, it was the best Dakar in terms of speed and having the potential for a strong finish,” Santosh said.”

“The crash did put an end to my progress at the rally, but since the recovery, I have been better than before and I did end the year with my first top five finish at an international rally.

“I will race this edition of the Dakar first to finish and when I do make that finish, I will arrive at a number that I will be happy with,” he added.

The 9,000-km Dakar Rally is touted as the world’s toughest off-road motorsport event and according to Santosh, adaptability is a key for any rider to secure a podium finish.

“Dakar Rally is by far the biggest, baddest motor sporting event in the world and it takes every thing you have and a little bit more to make that finish,” he said.

“The pace in the Dakar today is really high and there are probably 30 former world champions competing for a podium and it’s really hard to say who will win. In my opinion a rider that’s fast, fit, one who can navigate really good and the one who can adapt the quickest to changing demands of the race will end up on the podium,” he added.


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