The world’s biggest race, the Dakar Rally, will kick off on Sunday, with two teams from India participating in the 41st edition of the brutal terrain but challenging event. This year’s Dakar Rally will be hosted in Peru, South America, and is being held in only one country for the first time. The 2019 Dakar Rally will take the convoy of participants on a 5,000 km coil around Peru, starting and finishing in Lima over 10 days between January 6-17, through some of the most difficult regions, weather conditions and navigational challenges.
CS Santosh, Joaquim Rodrigues and Oriol Mena are participating in the three-member Hero MotoSports Team, while Aravind KP will represent TVS. There will be a total of 3,000 kilometers of racing divided between 10 special stages, where 70 per cent of the terrain will be covered in sand.
This will be Hero MotoSports' third consecutive Dakar Rally. The team has consistently improved its performance finishing in the Top-15 in 2017 bettering it to Top-10 in 2018.
All three riders will ride on the Hero 450RR rally bike.
"We are enthusiastic and absolutely ready for Dakar 2019. Looking at this high-octane event, which is expected to be even tougher than last year, our focus remains on finishing the Rally," Markus Braunsperger, Chief Technology Officer, Hero MotoCorp and Head of Hero MotoSports, had earlier said.
Star biker Santosh said: "This will be my third Dakar with Hero MotoSports and fifth overall. It has been a very exciting three years and I'm geared up for yet another rendezvous with this unique event. I am satisfied with the preparations and look forward to delivering a solid performance.
"It feels great to ride again, after my accident at Dakar 2018. The recovery has been tough. I have been training particularly hard with a focus on arriving at the finish line safely. This will be my third Dakar and I'm very excited to be riding with my team again and hopeful of delivering a good performance," Rodrigues said.
Leading up to the Dakar 2019, THE Hero MotoSports team participated in many rallies across the globe on its 'Road to Dakar' initiative.
The Team kicked off its campaign in April at the Merzouga Rally in Morocco, where it achieved a Top-15 finish.
In August, the Team headed to the Atacama Rally in Chile, immediately following it up with a podium finish at the BAJA India Rally. It ended 2018 with a Top-15 finish at the Peru Desafio Inca Rally in September.
(With PTI inputs)