The Dakar Rally is an annual event organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation.

Finishing Dakar will be my first priority: C.S. Santosh

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New Delhi, Dec 27: Indian racer C.S. Santosh, who will be competing at the 2018 Dakar Rally, said finishing the prestigious off-road endurance event, which starts on January 6, will be his first priority.

The Dakar Rally is an annual event organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation. This is the 40th edition of the rally and the event will be held in South America. Originally held from Paris to Senegalese capital Dakar, the event was shifted out in 2009 after security concerns forced the cancellation of the 2008 event.

The race will start in the Peruvian capital of Lima before running through Argentina and Bolivia. It will then finish in Argentina on January 20 after covering a distance of 9,000 kilometres over 14 days.

“The most important goal is to enjoy competing at the Dakar and making the finish will be the first priority,” Santosh told IANS.

“It is now just about training, staying healthy and getting ready for the Dakar. There’s no more racing, but there has been a lot of work that I have put in to be ready for the mother of all rallies,” he added.

When asked about the changes he made as compared to last year, the 34-year-old racer said: “Working with experts like Invictus Performance Lab, PHD Nutrition and training with Jordi Grau in Spain for my navigation has played a key role in my preparation for this Dakar Rally.”

“I am fortunate to have Hero back my aspirations to race rally bikes around the world and I also have partners like Red Bull and Sidvin that help me as an athlete to be ready to go racing,” the Red Bull athlete added.

Santosh also explained the changes he made to his new Hero 450 RR motorcycle and said this bike is an evolution of his earlier one.

“We have the Hero 450 RR which is a huge improvement on my last year’s bike. It’s more agile and smaller, making for a very good handling bike. The new bike is an evolution of our old one. It has its weight more central and also has a lower centre of gravity to help with better handling,” he said.

“It makes going fast safer with the new suspension set-up and brand new shock. We have also improved our power delivery for more torque. The bike overall feels small, nimble and light and it has been continuously evolved going into the 2018 Dakar and beyond,” he added.

This will be Santosh’s fourth appearance at the Dakar Rally. He had performed well earlier, but has failed to reach the podium.

When questioned about the strategy for the upcoming rally, Santosh said: “It will be no different than my first Dakar… the strategy will always be to take one day at a time and arriving at the finish podium will be the main goal. 

“Where we end up, we cannot predict or expect in Dakar. We go out and do the best we can every day and be thankful that we have this opportunity to race rally bikes for a factory team. This is my approach to the Dakar,” he added.

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