Pune: CS Santosh was the best placed Indian rider at 13th position after the first stage of Dakar Rally 2018 finished in Pisco after starting from the Peruvian capital Lima that saw the gruelling Dakar Rally take off. His Hero MotoSports Rally teammate Joaquim Rodrigues met with a spectacular crash to end his race here.
Santosh clocked 24 minute 11 seconds to cover the first stage of 30 km. The first stage covered from Lima to Pisco. Another 13 stages are remaining in the world’s toughest off- road rally which will end on January 20 in Cordoba of Argentina via Bolivia.
“First day of a race is usually nervous. Today was just 30 km and tomorrow more than 200km. It is a log way to go and anything can happen at any stage in such a long rally,” he said after the first day’s race. “This year, there is a big change in the bike from last year and so much easier to ride. I am enjoying my time.”
Riding on a vastly improved and new look Hero RR 450 bike with the Indian tri-colour imprint on it, Santosh set off from the starting line here in Bib No 49 yesterday.
His Hero MotoSports Team Rally teammate Joaquim Rodrigues met with a crash midway into the 1st stage. The rider from Portugal, who finished 12th last year, suffered injuries at his hand and back and will not take part in the remaining stages. “It is unfortunate that Rodrigues’ race ended early. He met with a crash and suffered injuries in his hand and back.
Rodrigues overshot a sand dune for nearly 10m and his bike landed on top of another dune. He was thrown out of his bike and had to be evacuated from the course. He was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment.
“X-rays were taken and he was examined by doctors. He was all right and his condition was not that serious. But he is out of the race,” the team spokesperson said. Hero MotoSports Rally’s third rider Oriol Mena Valdearcos of Spain was placed at 22nd after first stage. Another Indian in the bikers’ category, KP Arvind of TVS Racing was at 30th.
Santosh is taking part for the fourth year in the Dakar Rally. But this is his second year with Hero MotoSports Team Rally. He finished 36th in his debut year in 2015 but failed to complete the race in his next two attempts due to problems in his bike.
Stage 1 General and Overall Classifications (Provisional): 1. Sam Sunderland (RedBull) KTM Factory Team 00:20:56; 2. Adrian Van Beveren (Yamaha) +32s; 3. Pablo Qunitanilla (Husqvarna) +55s…13. CS Santosh (Hero Motosports Team Rally) +03m16s …22. Oriol Mena (Hero Motosports Team Rally) +04m14s, DNF Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero Motosports Team Rally) Withdrawn due to injury.