Santosh placed at creditable 13th after 1st stage at Dakar Rally

Vastavam web: India’s C S Santosh was placed at a creditable 13th among the bikers at the end of the first stage of the gruelling Dakar Rally while his Hero MotoSports Rally teammate Joaquim Rodrigues met with a spectacular crash to end his race here.Santosh clocked 24 minute 11 seconds to cover the first stage of 30 km. The first stage covered from Lima to Pisco.”First day of a race is usually nervous. Today was just 30 km and tomorrow more than 200km. It is a log way to go and anything can happen at any stage in such a long rally,” he said after the first day’s race.

“This year, there is a big change in the bike from last year and so much easier to ride. I am enjoying my time.” “It is unfortunate that Rodrigues’ race ended early. He met with a crash and suffered injuries in his hand and back.He is all right now but will not further take part in the race,” a team official said.Rodrigues overshot a sand dune for nearly 10m and his bike landed on top of another dune. He was thrown out of his bike and had to be evacuated from the course. He was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment.Another Indian in the bikers’ category, Prabhakar Arvind of TVS Racing was at 30th.

Earlier yesterday, Santosh set off for the fourth time at the gruelling Dakar Rally with an aim of recording his best ever show at world’s toughest off-road rally.”I believe I am having my best preparation ever and I hope to do well. I am mentally and physically prepared,” Santosh said, even as he rode his bike towards the starting line in Lima.Santosh is taking part for the fourth year in the Dakar Rally. But this is his second year with Hero MotoSports Team Rally. He finished 36th in his debut year in 2015 but failed to complete the race in his next two attempts due to problems in his bike.

Head of Hero MotoSports and Hero MotoCorp Chief Technology Officer Markus Braunsperger said the team’s main target was to have a top 10 finish.”If there is no major issues or an accident, we hope all our riders to complete the race and then a top 10 finish is our aim and it can happen. At least we can do better then last year. If that is done we will be happy,” he said.The new ‘Hero 450 RR’ proved its capabilities at the OiLibya Rally in Morocco this year. The key learning from the Teams rookie year and last year’s Dakar experience have been implemented in the bike.

There are several improvements in the bike, which have affected an increase in riders confidence.The biggest and toughest rally-raid in the world, Dakar, in its 40th edition will cross three countries, starting with Peru today and travelling through Bolivia before concluding in Argentina on January 20.