The second edition of Hero MotoSports Rally Life took place in Pune yesterday. India’s first Dakar Rally participant CS Santosh graced us with his presence with his partner Sathyaraj A and Hero MotoSport crew members. The event was aimed at fans and aspiring young enthusiasts, to give them an opportunity to interact with India’s most accomplished rally racer and also to witness some high octane action at the dirt track set up by Hero MotoSport besides Amanora Mall. We received a great response from enthusiasts in Pune as around 150 fans turned up at the venue to listen CS Santosh and to watch him in action.
There’s no major motorsport event in the country that CS Santosh hasn’t conquered. So, what goes on behind the scenes in the life of a hardcore rally and off-road racer? Here are some highlights from the inspiring and thrilling Sunday with the master himself.
The day wasn’t meant for interaction only. Soon after the bike was shown to the public, CS went astride his 450cc monster while Sathyaraj A rode a Hero Impulse. Moods instantly elevated upon hearing the throaty exhaust note of the bike. As CS performed his first jump over a crest, we reflected on all that was narrated a few minutes before. Everything that goes into performing the jumps perfectly, it’s just unimaginable for regular riders, and even for enthusiasts. He jolted off the start line and there on, his jumps over the crests were just mind blowing. The crowd watched in awe as CS and his bike aimed for the skies.
Santosh and Sathyaraj A thundered around the specially built circuit by Hero MotoSports and we could stay there all day long watching the action. But what was entertainment for most, was a skill acquired by the riders through rigorous training. CS and Sathyaraj portrayed the importance of perfect riding position and correct handling of bikes in such arduous terrains. One has to stand, stay flexible and crouch enough so that after every hard landing, your body doesn’t get jolted. After every jump over a crest, the landing too has to be done perfectly in order to avoid damaging the bike.
We often hear, the journey is more beautiful than the destination. And that’s exactly the case in CS Santosh’s participation at the Dakar. Not only did he make an entire nation proud for being the first Indian to participate in world’s most enduring and challenging rally, but also was the first desi to finish it. “The year that led me up to the Dakar was an amazing journey. I met a lot of people from the industry and experienced the magnificence of this event”.
When he uncovered his 450cc Hero MotoSports Dakar Rally bike, the crowd went bonkers. The rally-spec bikes are made to endure high octane jumps over crests and dunes with a lot of hours put into building them. “You need special talents to built bikes like these. A lot of tech and different components need to be fitted into a small package, keeping in mind that it has to be lightweight”. The tower upfront is an important element as it houses the navigation instruments and switchgear that resemble the ones on a spacecraft.
As Ed Sirish Chandran interviewed CS, the fans were captivated. CS Santosh’s journey started off as an 18-year old motorcycle enthusiast and race lover. He entered his first off-road event in 2004 at the Gulf Dirt Track Championship in Hyderabad and thereon every rally was a learning experience for him.
His life changed when he participated in India’s toughest rally, the Raid de Himalaya. “That was the turning point in my life. I realized the importance of being alive everyday”, said Santosh. And what’s even more intriguing is that CS felt like the Raid was the ultimate event for him, until his peers encouraged him to aim even higher. That’s when he participated in the 2013 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which was his first international championship.
In case you missed the event, here’s some riding tips from CS for better control and handling on Indian roads where unwanted obstacles are ubiquitous. “Be completely aware of what’s around you. Always gauge by looking at the surrounding and you’ll be fine. It’s an art to understand the terrain and you only get better with more saddle time”.