As you can imagine the atmosphere at the start of the Dakar in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, is terrific. Driving through the city earlier today it is absolutely quiet, to us Indians almost like a ghost town, but on the banks of the river where the ceremonial start to the Dakar is underway it is like the population of entire country is here. Getting to the media zone is a task and a half, made no easier by the fact that nobody seems to speak or know English. The people are genuinely nice and helpful but there’s only so much you can understand of frenetic arm-waving in Spanish.
Anyway we make it to the photographers area in front of the ceremonial start and get baked in the harsh sun. Two days ago it was raining but today the sun is out in force, and in the southern hemisphere the sun burns really harsh. I’m two shades darker by the time Aravind KP arrives on the start ramp, beaming from ear to ear, resplendent in his brand new fluorescent yellow and blue Sherco-TVS Racing kit. Sherco has a new kit partnership and KP’s Airoh (carbon) helmet is light as air!
Half hour later C S Santosh takes the ramp. The ceremonial start is in reverse order, Aravind’s number is 77, CS is 42 and his kit is also distinctive in its whiteness. This is CS’s third Dakar – he finished the first one, DNF’d very early in the second, and with the super-professional Speedbrain team behind Hero Motorsport’s maiden Dakar effort things are looking strong.
As the sun sets the cars and trucks take the ramp and the festivities go through the roof, backed up by a super-enthusiastic crowd. We head to the hotel – our media shuttle to Argentina leaves at 3:30 in the morning and rally time isn’t stretchable time.
Source: evo india