CS Santosh's goal when he left India to compete in the Dakar Rally, becoming the first ever Indian to do so, was clear. "The aim is to finish the Dakar," he said to us. And the truth is, if he continues his performance in the manner that he has finished the first five stages, there is a real likelihood that he might reach his goal.
CS Santosh astride his KTM 450 Rally during the 2015 Dakar Rally
Riding a KTM 450 Rally for the Kini Red Bull team, and backed by the Pune-based PB Racing Group [UPDATE: We have since been informed that the PB Racing Group did not support Santosh in the Dakar Rally and that he made it through the event on his own steam], Santosh's attempt at the Dakar got off to a rocky start. However, the rider was clear that it would take him a few days of hard riding in the event to get used to the terrain and the sheer distances involved in the Dakar Rally.
As the Dakar progressed into its fifth stage though, traveling from Copiapo to Antafagasto, Chunchunguppe Shivashankar (as his name appears in the official Dakar entry list and timing sheets) seems to be getting into a steady rhythm. He has managed to put behind him the fall and shoulder injury that he picked up early on in the rally, and is running steadily.
The rider finished the fifth stage with a timing of 6hr 1min 49sec, which put him 1hr 23min 33sec behind stage winner Marc Coma. This also put Santosh 55th in the stage. His steady performance means that he is now ranked 51st overall in the motorcycle category of the event.
The riders will now proceed from Antafagasto to Iquique for the sixth stage of the event.