Photo of Indian motorcycle racer CS Santosh(Twitter)
Photo of Indian motorcycle racer CS Santosh(Twitter)

Santosh back in India, out of induced coma

“CS Santosh was transferred by air ambulance from Riyadh to Bengaluru on Thursday without any issues,” Santosh’s team Hero MotoSports said in a statement on Friday after the 43rd Dakar Rally ended.
PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 04:37 AM IST

Indian rallyist CS Santosh, who had crashed out of the 2021 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia last week, is out of medically induced coma after being brought back to India on Thursday. “CS Santosh was transferred by air ambulance from Riyadh to Bengaluru on Thursday without any issues,” Santosh’s team Hero MotoSports said in a statement on Friday after the 43rd Dakar Rally ended. “As per the latest information, he has been brought out of the induced coma successfully. He is now receiving the next stage of treatment and continues to be in CCU (Critical Care Unit) for observation.”

Participating in his seventh Dakar, Santosh, 37, was on way to delivering his best result until a crash in the fourth stage. Despite lack of bike-time last year due to the pandemic, Santosh was 43rd, 36th and 34th after the first three stages with his confidence, navigation and rhythm better than previous years. Santosh has completed the Dakar thrice with his best result coming in 2018 when he finished 34th. It was then best by an Indian till Friday when Harit Noah ended 20th.

While negotiating the 813km Stage 4 (337km Special Stage) from Wadi Ad-Dawasir to Riyadh, Santosh, a multiple-time national champion, suffered a high-speed crash in the world’s toughest off-road race. He was tended to by on-ground medical team before being airlifted to Riyadh where he spent a week at the Saudi German Hospital.

The endurance racer from Bengaluru was put in medically induced coma after suffering head trauma and dislocating his right shoulder.

Three days ago, the medical team overlooking felt Santosh was stable enough to be sent to India in a “sleeping state to avoid any unnecessary stress during the transfer”. “This is a very positive development as he will now be with his family and in familiar conditions, which always helps in a faster recovery,” according to a statement on Tuesday. In 2019, when the rally was held in South America, Santosh had crashed and suffered a concussion. Last year, the team decided to pull out from the rally after Santosh’s teammate Paulo Goncalves died from injuries sustained during a fall in the seventh stage.

Harith, India’s best

In only his second Dakar after crashing out last year, Harith registered a first in Indian motorsports by finishing 20th. The rider from Kerala became the third Indian after Santosh and KP Aravind to complete the two-week long rally, which shifted from South America to Saudi Arabia last year. This edition began and ended in Jeddah. Divided into 12 stages, the course ran 7,646km of which 4,767km was competitive.

Since inception in 1978 till 2014, there was no Indian participation. In 2015, Santosh entered as a privateer and finished 36th. Aravind was the second Indian to finish the rally, in Peru in 2019. TVS racer Noah, who participated in the Dakar for Sherco, finished in 54 hours, 58 minutes and five seconds. It was 7:39:51 behind Moto (bike) category winner Kevin Benavides of Honda. Debutant Ashish Raorane, taking part as a privateer, was the third Indian at Dakar 2021. His campaign ended in Stage 5.

France’s Stephane Peterhansel (car) won his 14th title, 30 years after his first. Nicknamed ‘Mr Dakar’, the 55-year-old Mini driver has now won the car category eight times, having also won the motorbike category six times. His victory came shortly after the death of French motorcyclist Pierre Cherpin who succumbed to injuries sustained in a seventh-stage crash. Cherpin’s death took the number of competitors who have lost their lives in the Dakar to 27.

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