Strategy revision crucial for new Dakar Rally rules: CS Santosh

36-year-old CS Santosh is planning his preparations for events, including the PanAfrican Rally in September in Morocco.

Published: 16th June 2020 08:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th June 2020 08:27 AM   |  A+A-

India's first Dakar Rally participant CS Santosh

India's first Dakar Rally participant CS Santosh

Express News Service

BENGALURU: As soon as dates for Dakar Rally 2021 (January 3-15 in Saudi Arabia) were announced last week, safety measures started grabbing attention. These guidelines have nothing to do with Covid-19. The event has often witnessed crashes, sometimes leading to death. Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves and Dutchman Edwin Straver were the victims in the 2020 edition. 

Considering the accidents, rider safety is given importance for the 43rd edition. The riders will receive aural warnings before they reach Level 2 and 3 difficult zones. They will also have to follow a speed limit of 90kmph in difficult areas, which will be categorised as ‘slow zones’. Airbag vests have also been made mandatory.

India’s first Dakar Rally participant, CS Santosh feels strategies will be important now on.

“With the new regulations in place, it's going to be different for the riders. This also means there will be more focus on race strategies. I think it will be interesting as teams with good strategies and riders aware of how to maintain the bike in good condition everyday, will probably end up winning the Dakar,” said the member of Hero MotoSports Team Rally.

Motorcyclists will also have to get used to the tyre changes. New rules stipulate only a total of six rear tyres for the entire competition. Earlier, one could change the front and rear tyres everyday if required. Also, maintenance work will be prohibited during stops for refuelling.

It means riders will have to make sure they don't overwork their tyres. "It's a safety issue. The rider has to bring the bike in one piece. That we have to conserve our tyre means we cannot go as fast as we want all the time. Riders have to be more cautious. Sometimes you might have to ride slowly. As a rider, it won't be only about speed. One will also have to learn to look after the tyres,” added Santosh, who has been nominated for Arjuna award by Federation of Motor Sports Club of India.

Santosh has not stayed away from his bike completely during the lockdown. He trained at his own Bigrock Dirtpark, an off-road training facility in the outskirts of the city. The 36-year-old is planning his preparations for events, including the PanAfrican Rally in September in Morocco.

“I still have time to be ready for Dakar. We plan to do some tests and races from September. The lead-up to Dakar should be good. But it all depends on when the international borders open, when teams can fly out and all,” concluded Santosh.  


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