CS Santosh had crossed the finishing line at the Dakar Rally since many years back going during a range of emotions in realising his dream of competing in the world’s toughest off-road rally.
In 2017, he became Indian first rider to complete the rally twice finishing in 47th place with the newly-formed Hero Motorsports Team Rally, while partner Joaquim Rodrigues ended in 10th place.
On Saturday, Santosh was a peaceful man who crossed the finishing line in Buenos Aires. But it doesn’t mean that the Dakar Rally got easier for him, this one of the toughest challenges up till now.
On Sunday Santosh said to TOI from Buenos Aires that “It was much harder than previous years. The navigation was a bigger challenge, especially in Bolivia. A lot of credit should go to my team, the back-room boys who helped us perform smoothly throughout the last two weeks.”
He said about the Bolivia that it got treacherous for him; he said “Bolivia is a high-altitude location. You add cold and rainy weather to the mix and it really got treacherous for the riders. It was pretty difficult to navigate and the bikes themselves go through extreme temperatures swinging between hot and cold.”
The Indian rider was comfortably in the top 40 in the first stages of Rally, but he trusts a mistake set him back. “It is a tough feeling to deal with knowing that you could have finished in the top 40, but I made a big mistake on Day 3 which set me back. But overall I can say that this is the best I rode in Dakar. The competition has increased a lot and a couple of mistakes cost me in the end,” he said.
Rodrigues completed clocked at 34 hours 25 minutes and 59 seconds, whereas Santosh in 42 hours 01 minute and 16 seconds. Rodrigues said “It was my first rally, so that makes it special. And to reach Buenos Aires being in the top 10 is indeed a great feeling. It was something I never thought of.”