After 12 days and over 9,000 km covering various obstacles such as off-roading trails, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass and rocks, 38th edition of the world's most grueling rally-raid came to an end at Buenos Aires on Saturday, January 14. KTM rider Sam Sunderland emerged as the winner of bike class. The British rider finished the rally in 31 hours 34 minutes and 11 seconds to clinch his maiden podium at Dakar.
Peugeot's Stephane Peterhansel won in car class with a time of 28:20:16. It is his 13th Dakar Rally title following a tight battle with French driver and Peugeot teammate Sebastien Loeb.
The Indian contingent also impressed in the rally. Even though, Aravind of Sherco TVS was forced out of the rally after the third stage, Hero Speedbrain rider Joaquim Rodrigues finished the rally at 10th with a time of 33:50:17. Shero TVS' Juan Pedrero Garcia finished the rally at 13th place with a time 34:05:11. Fellow Shero TVS rider Adrien Metge completed the rally as 23rd in the bikes with a time of 35:50:14.
The only Indian rider to finish the race was CS Santosh of Hero Speedbrain. He completed the race cloaking a time of 41:20:37 at 47th position. In his debut in 2014, he had made headlines by finishing 36th overall out of 79 finishers. However, he couldn't better his position from the previous finish this time. In 2016, he rode Suzuki 450 Rally, but was forced out of the race after stage 4 owing to a broken navigation tower.
Overall, it was a good outing for both Hero Speedbrain and ShercoTVS. Hero Speedbrain debuted this year and the 10th place finish will boost their confidence for the next installment of the Dakar rally-raid. The only disappointment for the Indian squad was the exit of fellow Indian rider Aravind KP.