Santosh off to solid start at Dakar

Santosh off to solid start at Dakar

India's C S Santosh was placed at a creditable 13th among the bikers at the end of the first stage of the gruelling Dakar Rally while his Hero MotoSports Rally team-mate Joaquim Rodrigues met with a spectacular crash to end his race here.

Santosh clocked 24 minutes 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, Argentina via Bolivia.

"First day of a race is usually nervous. Today was just 30 km and tomorrow more than 200 km. It is a long way to go and anything can happen at any stage in such a long rally," he said.

"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.

Rodrigues, meanwhile, met with a crash midway into the 1st stage. The rider from Portugal, who finished 12th last year, suffered injuries  to his hand and back and will not take part in the remaining stages.

"It is unfortunate that Rodrigues' race ended early. He is all right now but will not further take part in the race," a team official said.

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 Aravind of TVS Racing was at 30th.


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