Aravind KP, the second Indian rider to make it to the Dakar is out of the event on day four. 40km into the stage he had a crash that has damaged his shoulder seriously enough to make continuing impossible. The extent of his injury is not clear but he is definitely out of the event. The team also says the bike is destroyed and won’t even be brought to today’s bivouac at Jujuy but will be sent straight to the finish in Buenos Aires to be put on the ship back to Europe when the event is over.
Whether the crash was a consequence of the injury sustained on the prologue stage where he broke two bones in his wrist is unclear but it couldn’t have made things easier either. I spoke to C S Santosh and he said when he had a hairline fracture in his toe riding on his first Dakar two years ago it was nearly impossible; with two broken bones in the palm, on a stage as immensely difficult as today’s … Santosh just shakes his head. With a dramatic shrug of his shoulders David Casteu, Sherco-TVS team manager, also says that with an injured hand riding these bikes on rough stages is very, very difficult.
As I write Aravind is with the medics. Today’s stage crossed a 5000meter pass and by the time the stage got over the weather has become worse (it was hailing when the bikes went through it) and so the medical chopper cannot fly him to Jujuy. It’s 700km away by road so a road ambulance is out of the question. He is with six other riders and the medics will bring him to Jujuy tomorrow. Communication is very patchy, the only confirmation we’ve got is that “he is okay”.
It’s devastating news, for sure, and critics will say he should have been more careful, he should have taken it easy on the first stage, he’s not ready for the Dakar. But that’s stupid. Crashes happen. On the very same stage Santosh had more crashes than he could remember, saying he was very lucky to not have serious damage: “You have to take risks, everybody takes risks”. It was Aravind’s bad luck that he had to fall in a rocky place and hurt his hand, but that’s motorsport. You live to fight another day. From tomorrow Aravind hits the road to redemption; a road that if he stays true to will bring him back to the Dakar in 2018.