The Indian jodi for 2017 Dakar
Collaborating with Speedbrain, Hero MotoCorp plans to go racing with C S Santosh
WWHILE HIS FIRST TWO attempts at Dakar and various other rally raids have come mainly as a privateer or with a satellite outfit, C S Santosh will be going to Dakar with Hero MotoSports Team Rally as a factory rider. The team is a newly formed venture between the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer, Hero MotoCorp and Germany’s Dakar specialists Speedbrain GmbH.
With Wolfgang Fischer at the helm of operations, the Hero MotoSports Team Rally will be looking to test the waters with a few rallies this year starting with the Merzouga Rally in Morocco slated to take place from May 21-27. Fischer has been leading his Speedbrain team to Dakar for several years. His outfit has worked with BMW, Husqvarna and the official HRC team to make Dakar-spec bikes with riders such as Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves piloting the machines, who are now the top-dogs of the rally raid world.
Speedbrain has also worked on making its own bike since 2013 and has produced its Speedbrain 450 Rally which is a fully racing homologated machine. The 2016 upgraded Speedbrain 450 Rally bike has a 4-stroke, single cylinder, 449.5cc engine that can reach speeds of 170kmph. The engine is encased in a chromoly (chromium-molybdenum) steel trellis frame made by Speedbrain itself with carbon kevlar fairing to keep the bike’s weight in check. The humungous 29-litre fuel tank comes in handy during the long gruelling stages of rally-raids where fuel stops are odds apart.
On the pilots’ front it will be Indian C S Santosh and Portuguese off-road expert Joaquim Rodrigues. Santosh has been to the Dakar twice and has completed it in his maiden attempt aboard a KTM 450. His second attempt was hampered due to electrical glitches on his Suzuki RMZ 450. Apart from the Dakar, Santosh has also taken part in the World Cross Country Championship, finishing ninth overall in 2015. He also actively takes part in the Indian rally-raids and has bagged victories at the Raid-de-Himalaya and the Desert Storm.
C S Santosh’s partner is 34-year old Portugese, Joaquim Rodrigues. “J-Rod”, as he is known in the rally world, has had several titles and races in motocross, supercross and enduro to his name in the span of his 15 years of professional racing. It will however be Rodrigues’ maiden Dakar attempt the following year. ⌧