xBhp is in conversation with India’s flag bearer at the Dakar Rally – CS Santosh. They spoke with him before he embarks on this incredibly challenging two weeks, where he will take on the best rallyists of the world. CS will be riding a Suzuki 450 as he will battle it out over 14 days, riding through Argentina and Bolivia covering 9000km.
The 2016 Dakar Rally will start on the 3rd of January from Buenos Aires and culminate on the 16th of January in Rosario. In the 2015 edition, he finished 36th, a commendable result in his first year out. Read what CS has to say about his training, goals and competition at the 2016 Dakar Rally.
Which are the companies supporting you for the 2016 Dakar Rally?
The people that are behind me this year are Red Bull, Ceat Tyres and Suzuki Spain.
Last year you rode a KTM at the Dakar, how different do you expect the Suzuki to be in comparison to the KTM. Have you had to adapt your riding style considerably for this?
Apart from the KTM and maybe the Honda, everything else is a take on the 450 production bikes that they have. Only the KTM and the Honda are made specifically to do rallies. The KTM is huge compared to the Suzuki, it is like a tank, it is meant to absorb rocks, stones and anything else that comes in the way. It is meant to do rallying. The Suzuki is a smaller bike, it is a lot different from the KTM, but I will be able to adapt easily, as I ride a 450 at home. And from that to jump onto a Suzuki 450 is similar, unlike the KTM which is a totally different motorcycle.
Do you expect the Suzuki to be easier to ride, because it is smaller?
I don’t know about it being lighter, but my Suzuki handles really well and I think I have had time on the Suzuki 450 motocross bike, so it’s similar to that. So it won’t be a huge change for me, going from that to a rally bike.
What’s your aim/ goal for the 2016 Dakar Rally?
I was just looking at last year’s result sheet today and I think I finished in the 30s last year. But last year when I did the Dakar, I really struggled with speed. As though we didn’t have any speed to offer. I am thinking that if we can consistently be in the 20s and 30s, then we should finish in the top 20. My goal is to finish in the top 20.
How have you been training specifically for the 2016 Dakar Rally and for how long?
I trained quite a bit more this year compared to last year. You know, when you do the Dakar it pretty much destroys you. I build all this up, the fitness, the endurance, the muscles that I need for the Dakar. Because by the end of the 14 days I am going to use everything that I have. So I have trained a lot on the bicycle and I have stepped up my training in the gym as well. I would say that at least 4 or 5 months of this year I have spent training for the Dakar.
Have you felt an increase in support from fans this year as compared to the last year?
Ya, I mean when I first went to the Dakar hardly anyone even knew what I was doing, who I was or even what my deal was with a motorcycle. Today people at least recognise me and cross country rallying, whether it is the Desert Storm, the Raid or the Dakar. People can now put rallying and me together. So yes, I have a lot of support this year and it’s great to see on Social Media, or people that are around me or people that I meet regularly, so there is more visible support coming my way this year.
Any particular stage of the 2016 Dakar Rally that you are looking forward to?
We are looking forward to completing the Bolivian challenge this year. Last year also Bolivia was really tough; we spent only one Day in Bolivia. This year we will be spending 3 days in Bolivia, I don’t know what it’s going to be. I am just ready for that, for those 3 days in Bolivia and if I make it through those 3 days, then rest assured we will make it all the way to the end of Bolivia. My only hope is that we complete Bolivia and get back into Argentina.
At the Dakar 2016, is there any rider who will be a benchmark for you to gauge your own performance?
That’s a tough question to answer actually. My roommate last year was Toby Price, who finished 3rd in the Dakar. I look at all these guys who are really fast and they inspire me and so I hope that I will at some stage be able to have the speed that those guys have. Obviously the guys who are winning the Dakar and winning stages are the guys who inspire me.
I think the first two days I need to see what happens. You know what happens at the Dakar, within the first two days everyone settles into their position and speed, so then you know who is in front of you and who is behind you. It takes a couple of days for all of us to slot into our speed and our positions. Until then we don’t know.
Any message that you would like to give to your fans in India.
Do continue to support me at the Dakar. I am really grateful that you guys back me and for sure you need to persevere in whatever you do. For me, the Dakar is going to be really hard for the next 14 days. And in life when you persevere, you end up in a good place.
source : xBhp.com