Aravind gears up for Baja challenge

Aravind gears up for Baja challenge

KP Aravind’s Dakar Rally debut, earlier this year, might not have been impressive but the Mangaluru lad remains undeterred and is geared up to launch a stiff challenge at Indian Baja that flags off from Jaisalmer on Friday.

The 31-year-old, who suffered a serious shoulder injury during stage three of Dakar, will represent TVS Sherco with his team-mates Adrien Metge, R Natraj and 2016 Raid de Himalaya champion Abdul Wahid Tanveer.

At the Baja, riders who haven’t participated in Dakar will vie for the sole qualifying spot to the Merzouga Rally in Morocco. A roadbook format will be employed at this year’s Baja, where the riders will be aided by a map rather than a GPS system. Arvind, who has regained full fitness, said he was glad to be back and that the Baja, a three-day event, was one he was looking forward to.

“I’ve spent a considerable amount of time training for the Baja and I’m sure it’s going to be exciting considering it’s now an internationally recognised event.”

Metge, who finished 22nd at the 2017 Dakar, echoed his team-mate’s thoughts. “I’ve had a look at where we are going to race and it looks fantastic. I’m sure it will be a great place to race.”

While the Baja will not be as gruelling as the Dakar, Aravind is aware of the dangers posed by the sweltering heat in the unforgiving Thar desert.

“It’s definitely going to be a lot hotter but the weather will probably be consistent whereas during the Dakar the temperatures range from 50 degrees celsius to 0. That being said, dehydration is a real danger with the conditions here.”

“The terrain here is mostly sand so it will be comparitively safer but as challenging as the Dakar,” he added.

The team will be equipped with RTR 450 motorcycles, which have evolved significantly since the Dakar Rally. Development and Logistics rally manager Laurent le Gat threw some light on the nature of the bike that will be used for the Baja adding it would be a lot smaller and more powerful.

“With the Dakar bike, the biggest problem we face is with the quantity of the gasoline and getting enough power into the bike to be able to handle the weight. That will not be an issue during the Baja as the distances are not as massive. Our key area of focus will be to make the bike more nimble and easier to manouevre.”

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