Words by Afzal Rawuther
The Bolivian leg of the Dakar has been synonymous with bad weather and this time too, the weather played its part and the first part of the sixth stage from Arequipa to La Paz had to be cancelled for motorcycles due to the same. Stage six was now limited to just the second part – 194km of timed section that included everything from snow, freezing temperatures and rain at an altitude of 4800m.
Both riders from Hero MotoSports Team Rally decided to be safe and cautio us with an aim to successfully complete the 1st half of the Dakar Rally without any unwanted incident. Oriol Mena continued his solid run from stage five to finish the stage at 23rd position, and an overall 21st place. While CS Santosh continued his resurgence in the rankings, despite a troubled ankle owing to an earlier crash. He finished the stage at 38th position and overall stands at 51st place at the end of the first half of the Dakar Rally.
Hero MotoSports began the Dakar strongly with both Santosh and Dakar rookie Oriol Mena posting great times in the first two stages. However Joaquim Rodrigues had an unfortunate accident that resulted in a broken wrist and his retirement from Dakar 2018. An issue with CS Santosh’s bike’s fuel cap meant that he lost fuel before the end of the stage on the third day and slipped down the rankings. Since then however, Santosh has had a good run and has moved up places to be at 51st overall. Rookie Oriol Mena has however continued to impress throughout.
The next stage will move the rally from La Paz on 13th January for its 1st marathon stage of 425 km to Uyuni. As per the regulations, the riders will not be able to receive any assistance from the crew at their overnight halt at Uyuni and will be on their own.
Red Bull Athlete & Hero MotoSports Rider C.S Santosh (Comp No: 49) said: “Bolivia has always been the turning point in the Dakar. It was really cold start in the morning and a very long liaison, and then it started to raining making things worse. We didn’t have dust today so I knew it was my best chance to pass a few guys and I tried to make the most of the opportunity. Overall good day and I brought the bike home. Now we rest for one day and then get ready for the final leg of the Dakar”