Dakar Rally: CS Santosh bracing up for longest stage

  • Sukhwant Basra, Hindustan Times, Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina
  • Updated: Jan 05, 2015 05:51 IST

India's CS Santosh or Shivashankar Chunchunguppe as his passport states and therefore his official name in the entry list, has certainly taken the words of Dakar veterans to heart.

The opening stage of this mega rally had the Indian going cautious and he was placed 86th in stage timings out of a total of 161 motorcycle starters on day one.

Santosh has been asked to take it easy as the Dakar is not an event that rewards blind speed. Instead, it's said to favour prudence.

The trick to such long tests of endurance is to build up a consistent speed which one maintains over and throughout the course of the next 14 days.

Off the top

Splash and dash riding is not what's going to allow the 31-year-old from Bangalore to achieve his aim of finishing his first Dakar and he seems to be following that dictum.

"I was just not feeling comfortable pushing harder at that speed. We were easily 150 km/hr-plus most of the time and I didn't want to keep going that fast as I was not being able to sight the track as well as I would have liked?"

A case of first day nerves? "It was certainly not the best ride for me," Santosh said looking surprisingly fresh for a man who had just ridden over 800 km. "These long transports are killing. One feels like the brain's gone to sleep and you are riding in auto mode."

The Indian was more than 22 minutes off the pace of the fastest biker on day one. The leader Sam Sunderland is taking part in his third Dakar and blitzed to opening day honours ahead of last year's winner Marc Coma by a minute. "This is not a one-day affair. Whoever sustains himself in the long haul will survive. I intend to."


Qatar surprise

The fastest of the day proved to be Naseer Al-Attiyah of Qatar. His Mini clocked 1:12:50 to give him the first stage win.

There is considerable excitement in what is quintessentially a French event with the re-entry of French automobile giant Puegot after a break of 25 years.

Veteran Stephane Peterhansel was placed third in cars in the provisional standings.

The day unfolded across 175 km of competitive with 663 km of transport thrown in.

Villa Carlos Paz has gentle rolling hills that hedge it on one end and rolling pampas on the other.

On Monday, the second day of the 37th Dakar, competitors are set to face the longest special stage of this edition.

"It's going to be gruelling. It's an extremely physical stage; technical and demanding. Things are only going to get tougher as the event unfolds. For me, it's about holding on and pushing within my limits."

The Dakar moved to Latin America in 2009 after the edition the year before was cancelled on account of the terrorism threat in Africa. French intelligence had warned of a direct threat to the event from terrorist groups in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in western North Africa.

However, the event retains the name of the capital of Senegal since it was originally called Paris-Dakar.

Given the reception it has got in this part of the world, going anywhere else stays most unlikely.

"The crowd is simply incredible. I must have waved hundreds of times. I just feel bad that they are sitting out there in the hot sun, showing such enthusiasm and nobody is reciprocating. I always try to acknowledge the cheers," said Santosh.


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