Dakar 2017: Trial by fire!

Dakar 2017: Trial by fire!

It was barely one kilometre towards the end of the first stage of the Dakar, a short 29km prologue. Aravind had made up 17 places and dived down the inside of another slower rider he had caught up to. However the rider cut across in front of him and Aravind had to grab a fistful of brake and in the slush that meant the front end gave way and threw Aravind off.

Aravind landed on his head on the rock-strewn trail and his brand new Airoh carbon helmet did its job, though not without leaving a nasty bruise on the left side of his face around the eye. However Aravind also landed on his hand and the impact led to two broken bones in his left palm.

Dazed, because he landed on his head, Aravind lost a fair bit of time and three bikes also overtook him before he got to the finish of the stage. Had he not had the fall he would have finished 60th overall, instead of the eventual 63rd, which itself is a great performance for the rookie, making up 14 places.

Back at the bivouac the doctors bandaged his left palm, gave him a couple of pills, and Aravind was back in the Sherco bus working on his road book for the next day. As he told me, “I’ve come too far to call it quits now.”

The Dakar is about mind over body and Aravind has had his fair share of crashes and broken bones to be able to ride through the pain threshold. However the Aravind KP versus C S Santosh fight that we were looking forward to is now over (and no matter how friendly the two are to each other there is always rivalry between motorsports men). With a bandaged hand Aravind will no longer be able to push to his limit – he can’t afford another crash.

As for his bike, the right side had quite a lot of damage. It’s not that he had a huge off but these bikes are heavy beasts and there were a lot of rocks where Aravind crashed. “Okay, okay”, says Prakasan, Aravind’s TVS Racing mechanic who goes about replacing the right side panels, the front fairing and is waiting instruction from the head mechanic whether the handle bars should also be changed.

Day one over. 12 more days to go!

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