An Indian First

CS Santosh becomes the first Indian to finish in top 10 at the Cross-Country Rallies World C’ship

Over the decades, there were numerous cross-country rallies all over the world. In 1999, FIM unified all of these one-off rallies and created a Word Cup which was later christened as World Championship in 2003. The 2014 edition saw six races across six countries where Marc Coma emerged as the eventual winner. In the racing circles CS Santosh is widely touted as one of the most talented racers India has ever produced. And he has statistics up his alley to back that claim. His trophy cabinet is decorated with nearly ever trophy there to win in the Indian racing scene – from the National Supercross Championship to the Raid de Himalaya and everything in between. But make no mistake, he doesn’t excel only on the home turf. Santosh has won trophies and accolades overseas as well.

This year, Santosh took his game to new heights. Owing to two top-10 finishes – in Abu Dhabi and Qatar – he became the first Indian to finish the season in top 10 at the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship 2014.

We caught up with the 30-year-old Bangalore lad to know more about his cross-country exploits. This is what he had to say:
Q. At had encountered a terrible accident at year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Going in to the same race – first race of the season – this year, what was going through your mind?

Last year’s accident wasn’t something that I was worried about when I returned to Abu Dhabi this year. Last year, a lot of things went wrong at the same time. There were a lot of things that I didn’t factor in. When I returned there this year, I felt like I belonged there. I did training in Dubai before going to Abu Dhabi; and before that, I had won the Desert Storm, so that had definitely given me confidence. I knew that 2013 crash was an on-off and it such freak incidents doesn’t happen regularly.


Q. Which was your best race at this year’s FIM Cross-country Rallies World Championship?


Without a doubt, it had to be Abu Dhabi. There was so much riding on it. People expected me to do well. Going there and getting the monkey off my back, was a big relief Despite my crash last year, I knew I had it in me to finish in top 10; even other people had the confidence in me. So finally when I managed to finish in top 10, it was a huge relief.


Q. Which was the toughest race of the season?


Morocco was the toughest one. I had a five month break in between; hence, I struggled with form there. In fact, Morocco is pretty similar to Dakar – it gives you a feel for it – it has mountain passes, river crossings, deserts and such other elements that you would otherwise encounter at the Dakar.

Zipping by on his KTM (Image Credit: Cristiano)


Q. Tell us about your machine.


It’s a KTM 450. It’s the same bike on which Marc Coma won Dakar earlier this year. It is super reliable and a top class machine – the best in the industry.


Q. How is it working with Red Bull Kini?

The level of talent and professionalism is something that you can’t imagine. You have to be there to see for yourself. All these guys have worked on Enduro, Motocross, Supercross and such other international events. They bring so much of experience with them coming from countries which are at peak of motorsports.


They have won 13 Dakar Titles. For the rider, all he wants is for the bike needs to be reliable. At the end of the leg, I handover my bike to the engineers and they take care of it. I don’t need to concern about it one bit. It’s one less thing for me to worry about. It inspires confidence. And it’s this confidence that then translates into great results.



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