CS Santosh focuses on improving navigation at 2018 Dakar Rally
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CS Santosh focuses on improving navigation at 2018 Dakar Rally

CS Santosh of Hero MotoSports, who finished 47th in the 2017 Dakar Rally, has put in added effort this time to master the use of road-book, and improve his fitness

other sports Updated: Dec 14, 2017 18:30 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Dakar Rally,2018 Dakar Rally,CS Santosh
CS Santosh, who will ride a modified 450cc bike at the 2018 Dakar Rally, used the bike at the Merzouga Rally in Morocco in October and finished 13th. (HT Photo)

When the competition stretches over 8,000 km, dotted by sand dunes and high mountains, not getting lost is the primary priority. CS Santosh, competing in his fourth Dakar Rally, has that firmly etched in his mind as he gets ready for the January 6-20 rally in South America.

This time the Dakar starts from Peru, where it returns for the first time since 2013, and will cross through Bolivia before finishing in Argentina. The 34-year-old Santosh, who finished 47th in 2017, said he is paying special focus on understanding the road-book, so that he may not go too much off course and lose crucial time.

“It’s my fourth Dakar and this one is the one that I am really excited about,” said Santosh, who will ride for Hero MotoSports. “I haven’t been to Peru before -- 100 per cent dune stretches, it’s going to be tough. I struggled a lot last year. Physically, I was not at my hundred per cent, though I was happy to finish the race. This year I have changed a lot of things. Physically I am fitter. I have paid a lot of attention to my road-book.”

Santosh elaborated on the importance of navigation in rallies.

“The key to success in off-road rallying is to understand where you are actually heading and the difficulty to navigate in finding your way,” he said. “Each year, the Dakar is becoming more challenging physically and navigation wise. These are the key elements that I have focused on this time.”

Santosh, whose best finish at Dakar was 36th place in 2015, has trained with Spanish expert Jordi Grau to understand the road-book better. “You should have the ability to make a three dimensional image of the terrain by just looking at a map with different signs,” he said.

Modified bike

Santosh will have a modified 450cc bike at the Dakar.

“Handling is the most important thing for me. This bike is nimble and easy to ride. The distribution of weight is good. For rallying, the bike needs to carry massive amount of fuel. The fuel tank has been spread out in this bike. The weight has been reduced from the rear for maximum maneuverability,” Santosh said.

The Bengaluru-based rider used the bike at the Merzouga Rally in Morocco in October and finished 13th. He also competed at the Pan Africa rally and finished ninth.

Finishing, the priority

Santosh added that completing the race is his first aim.

“That’s my main target, to finish the race. And as a bonus I would like perform well and get a chance to be featured in the day highlights. It’s a platform where best performances of the day are shown,” he added.

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Along with Santosh, Joaquim Rodrigues and Oriol Mena Valdearcos will also compete for Hero MotoSports.

The 40th Dakar Rally is expected to have 500 competitors from 60 countries, who will cover a stretch of around 8,000 km. Out of the 14 stages, seven will include 100 per cent dunes/off-piste, one marathon stage for all categories and one marathon stage for just the bikes and quads.

First Published: Dec 14, 2017 18:30 IST