Dakar Rally, the most gruelling rally-raid in the world, is back. The 40th edition and 10th successive year in the South American continent, the rally will kick-start on Saturday (January 06) in the Peruvian capital of Lima.
This year, the two-week marathon event will traverse through Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. The rally has 14 stages and participants will cover nearly 9,000 kilometres over a period of 15 days. The rally ends in Cordoba, Argentina on 20th January 2018. In total, 337 vehicles – 190 motorcycles and quad bikes, 105 cars and 42 trucks – have been confirmed for the latest edition of the rally.
Indian riders and teams have shown increased interest in participating the rally in the past couple of years. For 2018, India has increased its participation in the rally. Here are the details that you need to know about the Indian connection of the 2018 Dakar Rally.
CS Santosh for fourth consecutive time
CS Santhosh is the only Indian to have participated in the Dakar Rally and finished it as well. In his debut in 2014, he made headlines by finishing 36th overall out of 79 finishers, riding his KTM machine with an injured shoulder and a broken toe. In 2016, he rode Suzuki 450 Rally, but was forced out of the race after stage 4 owing to a broken navigation tower.
Last year, he has teamed up with Hero Speedbrain. He completed the race clocking 41:20:37 at 47th position. The Bengaluru-based rider will be riding with Hero team again this year.
Hero MotorSports Team Rally
Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motor-sport division of Hero MotoCorp will be participating for the second time in the Dakar Rally this year. In addition to CS Santosh and Joaquim Rodrigues who was part of 2017 Dakar campaign, the team will field Spanish talent, Oriol Mena Valdearcos for this year. Its riders will be riding new Hero RR 450 rally bike.
In the team's first outing to Dakar, Joaquim Rodrigues finished the rally at 10th with a time of 33:50:17. CS Santhosh finished the rally at 47th place.
The 31-year-old Mangaluru rider Aravind KP is the second Indian to compete in the Dakar rally after CS Santhosh. Aravind KP made his debut in Dakar Rally last year with the Sherco TVS rally team. However, the dreams of the Aravind to compete at Dakar came to an abrupt end after he suffered a crash in Stage 3 of the rally.
Though it's his second time in Dakar with TVS, Aravind has been a part of the TVS team for the past ten years and has won 15 national championships in dirt track, rallies and motocross so far.
Sherco TVS Rally Team
Sherco TVS Rally Team will have the three-rider squad to participate in the 2018 Dakar Rally. Spaniard Joan Pedrero Garcia will be leading the squad which will include Adrien Metge from France and Aravind KP from India. They will be participating in the event for the fourth consecutive year.
Last year, JP Garcia finished the rally at 13th place with a time 34:05:11. Fellow rider Adrien Metge completed the rally as 23rd in the bikes with a time of 35:50:14. The three-member squad will be aiming for a Top 10 finish at the Dakar 2018.