In­di­ans at Dakar

Evo India - - NEWS - SIRISH CHAN­DRAN @SirishChan­dran sirish@gtop­ub­lish­

THE FIRST TIME I WENT TO THE DAKAR RALLY there were two brown-skinned peo­ple – Qatari champ Nasser Al-At­tiyah driv­ing for the then all-con­quer­ing VW team and I, the only In­dian journo to re­port on the event. There were plenty of Chi­nese, the Rus­sians were the team to beat in the trucks, but our coun­try had zero rep­re­sen­ta­tion; In­dia was as far-flung as it could get.

Fast for­ward six years and we had two In­di­ans rid­ing for two In­dian-backed teams in this year’s Dakar! Hero, as­ton­ish­ingly for it is only their de­but year, fin­ished in the top ten and even though San­tosh fin­ished in the low for­ties he still fin­ished what was the tough­est ever Dakar to be held in South Amer­ica. Over at TVS, for the third year of their Dakar part­ner­ship with Sherco, the en­gage­ment was ramped up with a third bike for Aravind, that too span­nered by an In­dian me­chanic. In­dia might be very, very far away from South Amer­ica – it took me 36 hours to get there! – but in­ter­est lev­els on both sides are on the rev lim­iter.

The Dakar wants more par­tic­i­pa­tion from In­dia and putting their money where their mouths are, the ASO are go­ing to of­fer a free en­try to the win­ner of the In­dia Baja rally (or­gan­ised by North­ern Mo­tor­sport this April in Ra­jasthan). This is not only for the 2018 Dakar but the pre­ced­ing Mer­zouga rally in Morocco. If you needed any in­cen­tive to dust off that old Gypsy and hit the desert I can’t think of any­thing bet­ter. In fact, watch­ing all the ac­tion at the Dakar has got me in­fected with the Rally Raid bug and with two weeks left for the Desert Storm rally I have sent in my en­try form and am hunt­ing for a rally-prepped Gypsy. Even my rally bud­dies think I’m mad to hit the ’Storm with zero ex­pe­ri­ence of how to rally a Gypsy, but they also say the Gypsy never, ever breaks down. Time to find out!

‘ASO wants more In­di­ans and will give the In­dia Baja win­ner a free en­try for Dakar 2018’

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