The 2018 Dakar Rally has begun in the South American country of Peru, and for those, not in the know, the Dakar is considered to be one of the most gruelling and dangerous motorsports events on the calendar. The event sees hundreds of quad-bikes, cars, UTVs, trucks and motorcycles ply their way through South America battling severe temperatures, gruelling stages and tremendous logistic challenges.
It’s been a couple of years, that more and more Indian riders and manufacturers are looking to the event not only as a platform for participation but as a hotbed for Research and Development. The event has two Indian manufacturers fielding 5 riders for contention in the gruelling event, TVS who is returning to the Dakar for the third time with french motorcycle company Sherco with their RTR 450 contender is represented by Indian motocross rider KP Arvind, Joan Pedrero and Adrian Metge. The other team in contention for the 2018 Dakar championship is Hero Motorcorp who are fielding two riders CS Santosh and Joaquim Rodrigues aka ‘JRod.
The first stage of the event saw the Dakar head from the start point in Lima to Pisco, taking the competitors through the dunes on day one itself making for a severely challenging start.
Despite that, Hero Motorsports CS Santosh, who is now coming into his own at the world's most difficult motorsport event, finished the days rally in 13th place overall aboard his RR 450. Nothing short of a stellar start from the rally-raid veteran. Also getting off to a strong start was Oriol Mena, the team's rookie rider, who finished 23rd overall in the motorcycle category.
However, the day ended on a mixed note with JRod dropping out of the Dakar after a crash that resulted in the Portuguese rider breaking his wrists. He was airlifted from the spot of the crash to a hospital, which declared him otherwise fit.
Meanwhile, in the TVS Sherco camp, even KP Aravind who is only on his second campaign but showing a similar growth trend to CS Santosh. Finished the day in 30th place after Day 1. Meanwhile his more experienced team-mate. Adrien Metge ended the day in 24th position, while Joan Pedrero Garcia finished 25th.