Santosh finished overall 36th among 79 finishers out of 168 who started the world’s toughest cross country race on January 5
Bangalore-based Chunchunguppe Shivashankar Santosh became the first Indian ever to not just compete in but also complete the gruelling 2015 Dakar Rally – considered the world’s toughest endurance race.
Santosh rode a KTM 450 Rally bike, supported by Red Bull traversing competitive special sections across Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, covering 9,295 km over two weeks, before finishing at Buenos Aires on January 17.
Thirty-year-old Santosh clocked 60 hours, 39 minutes, 20 seconds while veteran Spaniard and reigning champion Marc Coma, on a factory prepared and supported KTM, claimed the two wheeler title with a time of 46 hours, 3 minutes and 49 seconds.
After starting in 85th position, Santosh climbed to 49th by the end of the second Special Stage. He suffered an injured shoulder, a bleeding nose after a fall and a fractured toe as he fought his way through Stage 6, finishing at 52nd at the end of the stage.
By the end of Stage 8, during which he carried out running repairs on his bike without any support, Santosh moved up to 42nd place. By the ninth and tenth stages, Santosh cemented his position in the top 40s, eventually completing the rally at 36th position overall.
“I’ve shown that it’s possible, an Indian can do it too. I hope there will be more of us in the future,” Santosh said.
In second place finish was Paulo Goncalves of Portugal, finishing just 16 minutes 53 seconds behind Coma on a Honda bike. Third place was taken by Australian Toby Price, also riding a KTM 450 Rally. Meanwhile, the other notable team with an Indian connection, the Sherco TVS team, also finished in the top 30. Alain Duclos riding a RTR 450 finished in 25th position while his teammate Fabien Planet, also piloting a Sherco TVS RTR 450, finished in 29th position.
The Dakar Rally is notorious for its fatal accidents, and since the rally’s inception in 1979, more than 50 competitors and spectators have lost their lives. Formerly known as the Paris-Dakar rally, the event is an annual rally raid which has been held in South America each year since 2009. Most events since the inception were from Paris-France to Dakar, Senegal. In 2008, security threats in Mauritiana led to the cancellation of the rally, and it has since been held in South America since 2009.