Harith Noah creates history, becomes the first Indian to win at Dakar
In a triumphant culmination of resilience and skill, Harith Noah, the Indian rider representing the Sherco TVS Rally Factory team, emerged victorious in the Rally 2 class of the 2024 Dakar Rally, etching his name in history as the first Indian to achieve this remarkable feat.
Harith finished 11th across the Rally GP and Rally 2 classes, which is by itself another record as no Indian rider has ever done that before. But the journey was not without its challenges. Harith Noah faced physical discomfort during the initial Stage 1, battling headaches and cramps. However, despite setbacks, he showcased remarkable progress from the 29th overall position on the first day. By Stage 2, Harith had climbed to 22nd in the overall rankings and in Stage 3, he made history by securing the 3rd position in the Rally 2 class – another first for an Indian rider. Across categories, he finished 17th in the stage and the overall rankings, he was 18th, moving up from 20th on the previous day.
Stages 4 and 5 were ones to forget for Harith, In Stage 4, Harith lost time in the special stage finishing 21st down from 17th where he started. “Was not my day, very rough and broken tracks today. Felt uncomfortable and my head was not working in sync with the roadbook,” said Harith about Stage 4. The next day gave Harith a big scare. His fuel was contaminated with dust which meant he probably would have to retire from Dakar. But luckily, Harith managed to finish that stage on two wheels. At this point, Harith was 18th in the overall rankings. The 48-hour chrono stage was next and an arguably good stage for Harith. On the first day, Harith climbed up to the 17th position starting from 21st. On the final day of the 48-hour chrono stage, Harith made even more progress finishing in 12th and moving to 13th in the overall rankings across all categories. Stage 7 again brought physical difficulties for the Kerala-based rider. Before the stage, Harith caught a bad case of cold and therefore had a hard time in the stage. Harith finished 16th but fortunately maintained the 13th overall ranking. In Stages 8 and 9, Harith made progress moving up to 3rd in the Rally 2 rankings and maintaining his 13th overall ranking. By Stage 10, Harith had established himself as one of the leaders. At a few checkpoints, Harith had set the fastest times outpacing even seasoned competitors like Ricky Brabec. He finished 5th, just a minute and 22 seconds behind Ricky Brabec. This remarkable feat placed him twelfth in the overall rankings and second in Rally 2. Stage 11 then set up Harith for the win. His main competitor in the rally – Romain Dumontier, had a bad day filled with issues, including a fall and navigational errors, which saw him lose over 18 minutes to the stage winner. Harith took advantage of this and won his first stage at Dakar. Talking about the stage, Harith said, “I knew it was going to be a hard day. It was said to be the stage with a lot of rocks and delivered. Felt pretty good in the beginning but then once we started getting into the rocks, I had two small crashes. Tried to focus on the navigation and keeping it on two wheels for the remainder of the stage.” Stage 12 marked the pinnacle of his Dakar Rally journey, securing victory from start to finish. Harith started first in the rally and finished well ahead of Dumontier. In the end, he stood at the top of the Rally 2 overall rankings with a lead of just under 5 minutes. Across the Rally GP and Rally 2 categories, Harith stood 11. With this, Harith Noah, the number 20 Sherco TVS Rally rider, clinched the Dakar Rally championship in his class, making history as the first Indian to claim this prestigious title. “Amazing feeling hearing that I was first in the category after finishing the stage 12 and 11th overall. Learned a lot and know what I have to work on. Still taking it all in,” Harith said on his social media handle.
Harith Noah's historic victory in the 2024 Dakar Rally marks a significant milestone in Indian motorsports, as he becomes the first Indian to win this prestigious title. The Dakar Rally is world-renowned for being the toughest motorsport event. Those who even dare to attempt are worthy of applause and Harith winning in his class is a thing of immense pride for all Indians. Harith’s journey, fraught with physical and mechanical challenges, showcases his extraordinary resilience and skill. His win is not just a personal triumph but a national achievement, inspiring a new generation of Indian riders to dream big and aspire for global recognition in motorsports.