India's C.S. Santosh (Hero MotoSports Team Rally) and K.P Aravind (Sherco TVS Rally Factory team) successfully completed the first stage of the Dakar Rally in Peru. While Santosh made a strong finish in his fifth Dakar outing to finish 20th, Aravind finished 70th.
The short first special stage of 84 kms, out of the 247 kms, was kicked off in reverse order from Lima to Pisco.
For Hero MotoSports, Joaquim Rodrigues kept his focus on finishing the stage safely and crossed the finish line at Pisco in the 23rd position while Oriol Mena, who was the last to start for the team, faced a little touchdown trying to avoid a tricky hole in the first dune that he encountered, finished the stage in 14th.
The Sherco TVS team's Michael Metge managed a good finish at the 12 position at the end of the first stage while Adrien Metge, Lorenzo Santolino and Aravind finished the stage at 24, 25 and 70 positions respectively.
With all the riders warmed up to the Dakar and the stage one in the bag, the rally will move to San Juan De Marcona for the first full stage with 552km, including the liaisons, to be done in the heat and dunes.
Santosh said he was happy to have completed the stage successfully. "It was the first day out of the books. I had butterflies in the beginning but it is always like this with the first stage of the Dakar. After the riverbed, there was a lot of dust but I got into my own rhythm. I am very happy to bring the bike home in the first stage and hopefully this will continue in the next stages as well.”
His teammate Mena said, "Good Day today overall except for a small incident where I overlooked a small hole on the other side of the first dune and had a touchdown. Well that’s how this Dakar has started for me, but I am safely back at the bivouac and that’s what matters. Tomorrow will be another day.”
TVS Sherco's Aravind said the first stage opened room for a lot of learning. "It was difficult to read the course on the first part of the stage! But I felt much better on the second part. A good day for me and I hope to learn and improve every day all the way to the finish line."
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