India’s ace rally rider CS
Santosh who was placed 16th place in the Merzouga Rally in Morocco (Africa),
which forms part of the Dakar Series, will now be spending the next three
months in Europe to train for the next edition of the Dakar Rally in 2017.
Participating only in his
second international cross-country rally in as many years, Santosh had to deal
with a steep learning curve riding for the recently formed Hero Motosports Team
Rally in strategic partnership with
Speedbrain, the German cross-country rally specialist.
Earlier in January 2016, his
Dakar adventure lasted barely two and half stages being forced to retire due to
mechanical and electrical problems with the bike. Santosh’s outing in the
Moroccan desert was the first full international cross-country rally in close
to two years. His team-mate, Joaquim Rodrigues of Portugal, bagged a ninth
place finish in the first rally for the new team.
Santosh believes that the Hero
Motosports Team Rally brings the best of both worlds. Hero Motocorp is the
largest two-wheeler manufacturer in the world, while Speedbrain won the World
Cross-Country Rally Championship in 2013. “It’s absolutely delightful to work
with such a committed bunch of people, who share the same goal. For example,
Hero Motocorp CTO, Mr. Marcus Braunsperger, was not in Morocco, but he was in
constant touch with us with words of encouragement. In the Merzouga Rally, we achieved most of
the targets that we set out to accomplish. The bike is really good and fast and
with more development in the coming months, it will get even better. Hero
Motocorp Team Rally has everything that it takes to make for a winning team,
which is our goal,” said Santosh.
Looking forward, the
Bangalore-based rider said that he will be spending the next three months,
starting June, in Europe training with the rally bike and polishing his navigation
skills. Santosh could have finished further up the final classification had he
not made navigation errors on a couple of stages in Morocco. He will work out
of his base in Spain, which is the home to some of top riders in the world, but
will travel to other parts of Europe to train and compete.
“Navigation is one of the
areas I need to work. It will be a key focus area during my training in Europe
because navigation is all about practice and trusting the roadbook. To be
honest, I haven’t spent much time with the roadbook in the last two years.
Apart from training, I might compete in a few races, most likely Baja Aragon.
It’s important for me to train on the rally bike because the ride dynamics and
weight distribution due to the auxiliary fuel tanks at the rear and the
navigation tower at the front are completely different compared to a regular
dirt bike,” said Santosh.
Santosh and Hero Motocorp Team
Rally will be taking part in the OiLibya Rally in Morocco in October, which is
part of the FIM World Cross-Country Rally Championship, before heading to South
America for the 2017 Dakar Rally.
CS Santosh is supported by
Hero Motocorp, Ceat Tyres, Sidvin Core Tech, Red Bull and Track &
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