Ashish Raorane at Dakar 2021: Scrutineering, Prologue and Stage 1
The action started on 31 December 2020, when pre-checks were done on his 2019 KTM 450 Rally Replica to establish eligibility. Components on the motorcycle which can't be changed since he is running in the marathon category (like the engine, piston and swingarm) were marked. After mechanical checks, the checks for the airbag, medical equipment and security components like the ERTF (a kind of GPS) and Iritrack (an alarm system which also works as a tracker as well as contacts emergency vehicles in case of a crash ) were also done.
Scrutineering and administrative check
This took place on January 1, and since a lot was pre-checked, the administrative procedures were a breeze. First off, the authorities checked his payments, FIM License, and start permission, all of which had been uploaded earlier already, so they just had to just stamp the copies. Next, they checked his medical records for any medical allergies or prior surgeries. All in all, it took a meagre 45 minutes!
Prologue and start podium
The prologue stage, a 129 km (including a 11 km special stage) is essentially the sprint to the starting line for the rally proper. On the way, Ashish hit a sharp rock near the start of prologue, damaging the front rim. Post a quick wheel change, he was on his way, getting back to the bivouac in time for the start podium.
Running from Jeddah to Bisha, stage one covered 623km, including the 277km special stage. Overall, Ashish found it pretty rocky and difficult, which was exacerbated by navigational errors in the beginning which cost him time. The stony sections got worse after 50-60km into the stage, and it was not until the section prior to refueling that he was able to regain lost pace.
Definitely a tough start on his Dakar debut, Ashish has vowed to take one day at a time, knowing he is completely on his own with just a trunk to support his journey. By the end of the day, he was ranked 84 for the stage, and 85 in the overall standings, with his focus on keeping the bike going for the stages to come, staying true to the Malle Moto spirit as seen in the participants of the Original by Motul Category.
Stage 2, now, will take him from Bisha to Wadi-Ad-Dawasir, a total of 685km, including a 457km special stage, and will include more sand dunes. Nevertheless, stay tuned for daily updates!