DEBUTING THE HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM ON A GLOBAL STAGE, INDIA'S RALLY-RAID PIONEER CS SANTOSH FINISHED IN 16TH PLACE IN THE MERZOUGA RALLY IN MOROCCO, WHICH FORMS PART OF THE DAKAR SERIES.
A few weeks back, Hero MotoCorp surprised everyone by announcing its debut in the world of motorcycle rallying with ace Indian motorcycle rally racer CS Santosh. For this, the company has signed a joint venture with Speedbrain to form the Hero MotoSports rally team. Speedbrain is a German firm with good offroad racing experience and the requisite technology to drive the team. Under this new partnership, CS Santosh, the only Indian to compete in the Dakar Rally, will be now riding for an Indian team to compete on an international level.
The first challenge for the Indian hero was the Merzouga Rally in Morocco and he managed to finish in an impressive 16th place, despite it being his second cross-country race. The Merzouga Rally is a part of the Dakar Rally, which is considered as the toughest motorcycle race on the planet. Another rider from Hero MotoSports and the team-mate of Santosh, Joaquim Rodrigues of Portugal, managed a better finish in the ninth position.
Sharing his experience in Morocco, CS Santosh said, “It’s absolutely delightful to work with such a committed bunch of people, who share the same goal. For example, Hero MotoCorp CTO, Marcus Braunsperger, was not in Morocco, but he was in constant touch with us with words of encouragement. In the Merzouga Rally, we achieved most of the targets that we set out to accomplish. The bike is really good and fast and with more development in the coming months, it will get even better. Hero MotoCorp Team Rally has everything that it takes to make for a winning team, which is our goal.”
Now, Hero has decided to send Santosh to Europe for the next three months to train for the next edition of the Dakar Rally in 2017. Participating only in his second international cross-country rally in as many years, Santosh had to deal with a steep learning curve, riding for the freshly minted team.
In the Merzouga Rally, CS Santosh struggled with the lack of navigation practice, resulted in him losing precious time. So the Indian rider said that he will be focussing to improve his navigation skills during this three months’ training in Europe for the upcoming race. The next challenge for Hero MotoSports and CS Santosh will be the OiLibya Rally in Morocco in October, which is part of the FIM World Cross-Country Rally Championship. After that, the team will be heading to South America for the extremely challenging 2017 Dakar Rally.