Setting forth on the most gruelling of rally in the world, the 2017 Dakar Rally got off to a flying start on 2nd January 2017 at Asunción, the Paraguayan capital. As drivers and riders are taking part in what is termed as the world’s toughest race, this year, two Indians, CS Santosh and Aravind KP are also participating in the 9,000 km rally which is slated to pass through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.
The rally will see a total of 318 vehicles that include 144 bikes, 37 quads, 87 cars, 10 UTVs and 50 trucks participating in the events over the next two week journey through Southern America.
Set to win the title for France is Team Peugeot Total drivers that include Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA), Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MON) and Carlos Sainz (ESP)/Lucas Cruz (ESP). Toby Prince (AUS), the reigning champion is set to continue with his winning streak while team mates Matthias Walkner (AUT) and Sam Sunderland (GBR) are also eager participants.
The Dakar Rally will take participants through the most challenging of off-roads, sand dunes, mud tracks and rocks putting both man and machine to the test. Where the Indian riders are concerned, CS Santosh is the only Indian to have taken part in the Dakar Rally. He made his official debut in 2014 when he finished 36th overall out of 79 finishers. He pushed his KTM bike to the limits despite an injured shoulder and broken toe.
Aravind KP is the second Indian to complete the Dakar Rally. He made his debut with Sherco-TVS rally team of which he has been a part for the past 10 years. He has won 15 national championships to date.