BENGALURU: The Dakar Rally is said to be one of the most challenging in the world of motorsport with athletes having to deal with desert, sand dunes, rocky terrains among others. India's Harith Noah has featured in two such editions and impressed with a top-20 finish earlier in the year, which is the best ever finish by an Indian. It is an achievement in itself. Now, the 26-year-old is in the final stages of his preparation for the upcoming Dakar Rally, which starts on January 2 in Saudi Arabia.
After his impressive show in the last edition, he spent some time at his hometown in Kerala, where he trained too. It was in September that Noah travelled to Europe for further training and to get in shape for his third Dakar. Besides training in Spain and France, he was also at the Moroccan deserts. However, he could travel back to Morocco further due to the Covid-19 threat.
Currently in France, he is in his last week of training. Next week onwards, he will spend less time in training. In the final week before the competition, Noah will not do much in order to recharge his batteries ahead of the gruelling test. He is not thinking too much about where he will finish next year, and just wants to take it kilometre by kilometre.
ALSO READ | Harith Noah to represent India at Dakar 2022
"Like last year as well as the year before, I never looked at the results so that is the same strategy, which I am going ahead with this time too. Basically, I don’t know where I will finish. Every day I have a feeling, as the starting line up is decided on how you finished at the last stage. I want to take it km by km and try to do the best I can. It is such a long race, it is important to focus on yourself and try to do the best you can, the results are going to follow then," Noah, who is supported by Scott Sports, said in a virtual interaction on Friday.
Having featured twice in the competition previously, Noah has the much-needed experience of what it takes to outdo the tough terrain. In fact, he has already experienced some tough phases, including riding with a swollen eye after a crash in 2020 at Dakar while this year, he even lost his way in Stage 11 too. It just proves to show how the rally also tests the riders’ navigational skills, not just his skills on the wheels.
“In Dakar, it is not just the skills on the motorcycle, but also the navigation skills, fitness and mental strength. It is a combination of lot more things than just a circuit kind of race, which makes the playing field even more even. There can be a lot of surprises,” he said. “This Dakar too, you do not know exactly what to expect. They gave a little bit of information about all the stages and I have written everything down. But the marathon stage is in the first week, which is not normal. Normally, it’s in the second week. In fact, it is on the second day. That is very surprising.”