The last couple of seasons of motorsport have probably been the most significant ones in CS Santosh‚Äôs rally raid career. It‚Äôs been a chequered couple of seasons though, with the Bangalore based racer spending most of 2013 recovering from a horrific crash at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and then coming back resurgent in 2014.
After successful outings at the Abu Dhabi and Qatar rounds of the 2014 World Cross Country Rally Championship, Santosh took a five month break before the Morocco round of the championship, the final round of the season. However, the five months he‚Äôd spent away from the bike were telling. Santosh found that he spent the entire first day of the round getting acclimatised to the conditions. He started eighth on the road, with all the faster motorcyclists starting after him and passing him over the course of the day. To make matters worse, he lost time too, and described the first day of Morocco to us as ‚Äúthe worst day in my rallying career.‚ÄĚ Things picked up though, and over the course of the rally he managed to do better, with the sixth day at Morocco being the best of the event. ‚ÄúI was able to navigate better and I rode pretty well on Day 6,‚ÄĚ Santosh said to OVERDRIVE. The rider was able to salvage 22nd position at Morocco, but it wasn’t really the result of the rally that caught our attention.
Why is Morocco so special? Well, for two reasons. The first is that it is a rally that uses the old stages of the Paris Dakar Rally – challenging sand dunes, river beds, treacherous mountain terrain – which are tremendously hard to tackle. The second is that the Morocco Rally, while being the season-ending event, is also a precursor to the Dakar. Almost all the competitors who are set to compete in the Dakar end up competing in Morocco as something of a recce – in terms of physical fitness and preparation of the machine too.
And while the 2014 season is over, Santosh already has his sight set very firmly on 2015. He is spending the next two months in preparation for the many challenges that 2015 is sure to throw his way. The most significant part of his training will be the task of learning the fine art of navigation, so essential to tackling the disorienting desert sands, from Dakar veteran Ruben Faria. Which of course makes us wonder whether or not the 2015 Dakar Rally¬†will be the first event that Santosh will compete in. For now though, the racer is keeping mum and training hard. Reckon we‚Äôll have to wait and watch over the next couple of months then.