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Words by Aninda Sardar
We can’t stop talking about CS Santosh and here’s why you should be talking about him too
Although his career goes back to over a decade, CS Santosh was a relatively unknown man outside the close knit circle of people who define themselves as enthusiasts. More specifically, motorsport enthusiasts. The year 2014 changed that forever when he became the first Indian motorcycle rider to compete in and finish the Dakar Rally. So what, you ask? Well, to put things as they should be, the Dakar Rally is the most gruelling motorsport event anywhere in the world. It’s a rally where man and machine lock horns with every obstacle that Mother Nature can possibly throw at those brave enough to attempt it. A sheer test of human endurance, courage and skill and reliability and performance of machinery. It is this that Santosh is attempting to conquer, this time as a factory rider for Hero Motocorp, in his third consecutive year as a Dakar daredevil.
But who is he? What was he doing before 2014? And why should we think he is underrated? A premier rider for TVS Racing once upon a time, Santosh has led from the front when it comes to the question of keeping the tricolour flying high in the works of international motorsport. In 2006, he won the Al Ain Motocross in Dubai and fifth overall in the Dubai National Championship. A couple of years later he became the first Indian ever to have qualified with the fastest time in Moto ii in the Asian Motocross Championship. He finished Championship fourth, the highest ever by an Indian motorcyclist in the international arena until then. Unfortunately, none of this got him the limelight he deserved.
So, what fuelled him on then? A singular passion for the sport he so loves, obviously. But more than that, a near stubborn determination to beat the odds. “As a kid, while growing up, I remember being fascinated by adventure, and that fascination continues to this day. Whether it’s on my motorcycle or in my everyday life, I’m always trying to address my fears and step outside my comfort zone,” he says rather matter-of-factly on his webpage.
That same determination has taken him back to his beloved Dakar where he now heads the Indian onslaught, the only other Indian rider having suffered bad luck and retired from his maiden attempt after back to back crashes in inhospitable terrain. May he finish and make us proud.