Dakar Rally: K.P Aravind ready for his toughest challenge

K.P. Aravind, who rides for Sherco-TVS Rally Team, will become the second Indian after C.S. Santosh to face the test. The 2017 Dakar Rally runs through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. It will be held in January next year.

K.P. Aravind, who rides for Sherco-TVS Rally Team, will become the second Indian after C.S. Santosh to face the test   -  G.P Sampath Kumar

The Dakar Rally is known to present the ultimate challenge for both man and machine. Competitors will have to cover around 900 kilometers per day, over nearly two weeks, primarily on tough off-road conditions.

K.P. Aravind, who rides for Sherco-TVS Rally Team, will become the second Indian after C.S. Santosh to face the test. The 2017 Dakar Rally runs through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. It will be held in January next year.

Aravind has been competing in rallying events since 2010. Before this, he spent 10 successful years in the Supercross and Motocross circles.

“The aim in Supercross and Motocross was to go all-out and finish in the fastest possible time. Rallying is a different challenge. On most occasions, we don’t know the exact route. If your navigation is even slightly off, you are in a soup. It is very tough, as we don’t have electronic navigation aids,” Aravind tells Sportstar.

And of course, the stages involve an element of danger. Injuries and even fatalities are commonplace. Since the inaugural 1978 edition, a total of 70 people (competitors, spectators and rally staff) have died during the rally. The risk is pronounced for bikers, who have to battle physical exhaustion, high speeds and an unforgiving terrain on two wheels.

Aravind, a seasoned campaigner, is not unduly worried. “I don’t think it is any more dangerous than what we find in Indian rallies. For example, in the Raid De Himalaya, if you miss a corner, you will fall off an 18,000-feet cliff,” he says.

A biker can sometimes go a full day all on his own, without any service stops. In the event of a breakdown or an injury here, it is left to the rider to find a remedy. “If I encounter a problem, I’m trained to make cosmetic repairs to the bike. But it is not possible to do big technical work alone,” he says.

The 2015 FMSCI National Supercross Championship and 2015 Indian National Rally Championship winner explains that the primary objective would be to record a finish.

Aravind finished 29th in the OiLibya Rally of Morocco a couple of days ago, which he terms as ideal preparation for what lies ahead.

Do his friends and family worry for his safety? “They know that I’m responsible, and that I won’t do something stupid or rash. I actually expected my friends and family to worry, but everyone has actually been very supportive. This puts me at ease,” the Karnataka biker replies.