The Dakar Rally (or simply "The Dakar"; formerly known as the "Paris–Dakar Rally") is the world’s most challenging cross-country rally event that judges the physical and mental aptitudes of the rider and the machine since its inception in 1978.
The 2017 edition that started this week has already seen four days of exciting stages where both man and machine have been put through the gruelling courses that test them to the limit and more.
For the first time, India has two teams running the Dakar. Hero Motorsports and TVS Racing, and each have an Indian behind the helm of their machines. Two Indian men with two different Indian teams are vying at the world rally stage and going by the history books, we will get to see our country’s first motorsports rivalry taking shape.
Hero MotoCorp is the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer and now they have joined hands with the German off-roading specialist Speedbrain GmbH (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung which is German for "company with limited liability") to formally create the ‘Hero MotoSports Team Rally’. And the India rider running with this team is the country’s top motorsport athlete CS Santhosh who had participated in the Dakar in the previous year.
TVS Racing also entered the Dakar with the technical partner, Sherco Motorcycles, who have successfully participated the world rally for a couple of years now. Soon after hero made the announcement, TVS Racing also showcased their Dakar plans. Riding their RTR450 will be another Indian debutante who goes by the name Aravind KP.
Both the Indian riders were looking good up to the second stage where towards the end, KP Aravind was invited to few fractures due to a crash. Meanwhile, CS Santhosh was still floating at a humble 56th position.
In the third leg, riders had to traverse for 64 kilometres from San Miguel de Tucuman to San Salvador de Jujuy. TVS rider Aravind had another nasty crash which found him fallen off the motorcycle close to 40 kilometres from the start point.
Although he was determined to finish the rally, his grievous shoulder that got injured was not recuperable and this made him retire for the rest of the stages, shattering the debutante’s dreams.
TVS Sherco’s riders Pedrero Garcia and Adrian Metge finished in the 16th and 30th slots respectively.
CS Santhosh too had navigation issues and eventually settled for 67th in the third stage. But unfortunately, it was a bad day for him too as he was penalised to 81st position for having missed a waypoint. However, Hero’s second rider Joaquim Rodrigues is having a successful campaign and is currently floating high in the 18th position.