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“The Dakar has a way of putting people in their places.” These were the words with which Hero Motosports’ Indian star C S Santosh described the essence of the Dakar Rally. Run over some of the most grueling terrain in the world across impossible distances, the Dakar Rally is one of the toughest – if not the most difficult motorsport event. It tests the experienced, challenges the novices and separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls.
You don’t really get the core of Santosh’s words unless you watch them in action. No amount of idiotbox viewership, social media videos or reading up about the Dakar’s history really gives you a sense of what this event is about. To put things in perspective, the very first day – run over just 30 km – saw the Hero Motosports rider Joaquim Rodrigues crashed into a dune and was out of the reckoning by the end of Stage 1. By the end of Stage 2, Sherco TVS rider Adrien Metge had also had a crash. And they weren’t alone. Stage 2 saw a staggering 11 riders not finishing along with 10 drivers. Stage 3 saw another three riders and 11 drivers not finishing, among them Dakar legend Roma Nani. Such is the Dakar.
Meanwhile, C S Santosh finished Stage 3 in 101, losing a boat load of places after his bike ran out of fuel 33km from the finish. His team mate Oriol Mena finished the Stage in 12th. The boys from Sherco TVS had better luck with Juan Pedrero Garcia finishing in 16th and second Indian rider Aravind K P finishing in 29th.