WATCH: 'Tougher than previous years,' daredevil Aravind

KP Aravind of Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team navigates a challenge at the Dakar Rally. 

KP Aravind is a bundle of joy currently. The only Indian to finish the gruelling Dakar Rally, the Udupi biker was accorded a grand reception when he returned home from Peru earlier this week.

Congratulatory messages are still pouring in from across the motorsports fraternity for the Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team rider. The happiness and sense of accomplishment were writ large on his face as he sat down for an interaction on Tuesday.

But things were far from rosy just a few months ago for the 34-year-old. Having just recovered from a shin injury, Aravind badly hurt his left wrist at the PanAfrica Rally in September. That blow put his hopes of competing in Dakar in total jeopardy.

Aravind, never the one to back down from challenges, was determined to compete in Dakar. He consulted one of the best wrist surgeons in the world, Dr Didier Fontes in France, who then helped him on his road to recovery. Within a couple of months, despite his wrist not fully mobile, the 17-time national champion got on a bike before pushing himself to the limit to make the journey to Peru and complete it successfully.


Despite his wrist not fully mobile, the 17-time national champion got on a bike before pushing himself to the limit to make the journey to Peru and complete it successfully.

"I've been racing for the past 13 years and injuries are not new to me," said Aravind. "I've been injured many times and I have returned to win titles after that. It was definitely heart-wrenching initially when I realised I may not make it to Dakar. When I broke my wrist, I was ruled out for six months.

"Dr Fontes told me I won't have much mobility in my wrist. I had to use a special brace to keep my hand stable and not hurt it more. Just three weeks before going to Dakar, I got to ride the bike. It was okay. Fortunately, the injury happened on my left wrist. I only had to use that hand to hold the clutch," added Aravind who finished 37th. 

When asked what is so endearing about Dakar despite it being considered as one of the most dangerous rallies in the world, Aravind said completing it gives one the confidence to counter anything in life. 

"I like to challenge myself and Dakar is one of the biggest challenges. When you conquer that, you feel a lot more accomplished, it's like a big achievement. We train ourselves in such a way that dangers don't really scare us. The most important thing about Dakar is the magnitude of it. Five days of continuous racing is what happens normally but 14 days is out of the world."

Unlike previous years, the 2018 Dakar was held only in Peru which saw many downplay it. But Aravind, competing for the third time, called it the toughest. "What we went through this time was visibility issues. There is something called fesh-fesh. It's finer than dust and when you have no wind, it kinda stays in the same place. Visibility was just 5 metres. There were a lot of hidden stones which made riding very dangerous.

"The danger lies underneath the fesh-fesh. You can't really see the stones sitting underneath the fesh-fesh. You have to avoid over-speeding else you would trip over and crash. I just kept things slow, steady and consistent. Since it was held only in Peru, people thought it was going to easy. But, this year it was more difficult than in the previous years -- only 55 percent finished -- which says it all."

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WATCH: 'Tougher than previous years,' daredevil Aravind

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