It's a big year for India at the Dakar. Not only do we have the first ever Indian rider, CS Santosh competing in the world's toughest cross country rally-raid, there is another first. This is that Indian motorcycle manufacturer TVS Motor Corp has become the first Indian company to compete in the gruelling event, in association with Sherco, with the newly formed Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team. And the first day of the Dakar, with Stage 1 running from Buenos Aires to Villa Carlos Paz, proved to be a good start for the Indian contingent.
TVS Motor Corp has become the first Indian company to compete in the gruelling Dakar Rally
After the stage had been completed, it was KTM rider Sam Sunderland at the head of the timing sheets for motorcycles. But what really stood out was the fact that the Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team was doing so well at their first attempt at the event. Sherco rider Alain Dulcos managed to put the No.14 motorcycle fifth on the timing sheets, 2 minutes and 8 seconds adrift of the leader. The second Sherco TVS, No.25 piloted by Fabien Planet, ended the day 24th in class.
CS Santosh managed to end the day 85th on the timing sheets
Now onto Chunchunguppe Shivashankar (if you want to follow Santosh's progress in the Dakar this is the name you have to watch out for on the official timing sheets).
Riding a KTM 450 Rally, with the competition number 59, Santosh proceeded rather cautiously over the first stage of the Dakar. The going wasn't easy for him, with the rider reporting to the Hindustan Times that he was particularly tired out by the long transport stages. However, Santosh still managed to end the day 85th on the timing sheets, out of 160 motorcycles in the event - although he was 22 minutes off the pace of the leader. Santosh's plan for the second stage that runs from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan has been to pace himself better and slowly acclimatise to the challenges of the rally, and come to terms with the pace (over 150kmph through desert sands) that the Dakar forces riders to keep their throttles pinned at.
Leading the Quad category at the end of the first day was Ignacio Casale, astride a Yamaha, while the head of the timing sheets in the Cars Category went to Orlando Terranova in a Mini. He was aided to the Stage win by the fact that Nasser Al-Attiyah was slapped with a 2 minute penalty for speeding through a checkpoint. Dutch driver Hans Stacey in an Iveco was the first in the Truck Category.
The Dakar now heads to San Juan for the longest stage of the rally with 625km to be covered by competitors in cars, motorcycles and quads, and 646km for competitors in trucks.
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