iconimg Saturday, May 30, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 26, 2013
Most motor sport competitors worry about things like beating other competitors to a finish line or beating the clock (as is the case in rallying).

Defending Raid de Himalaya winner and national supercross champion CS Santosh has an entirely different thing to worry about ahead of this year's Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Not getting lost.

The 29-year-old from Bangalore will make his first foray into the World Cross Country Rally Championship at the 2,400 km long event that kicks off in the dunes of the United Arab Emirates on April 4.

Going up against former winners of the Dakar Rally is the least of his concerns, however.

"An event like this is 60 to 70 percent about navigation," Santosh told HT.

"In cross country events in India, you are allowed to use tripmeters with precise co-ordinates of your checkpoints, but international events keep technology to a minimum.

Basic equipment
"You're given a road book with a compass reading and your GPS won't work until you're 3 km away from the checkpoint."

There is little from his cross country rallying experience in India that he can carry forward to the desert dunes.

"Even the terrain is a challenge," said Santosh. "On the Raid there were distinct landmarks but here I'll have to make my way through shifting dunes with a very real chance of sinkholes."

Santosh spent two weeks training in the Nevada desert in America where an intense focus was put on navigation. The elaborate preparations are leading towards a much bigger goal.

"It's very ambitious of me to say so, but I want to compete on the Dakar Rally by 2015," said Santosh. "My family has been on my case about how long I'm going to keep doing this and while I can't really say when I'll stop, I know that completing a Dakar will be a pretty big milestone for me."