CS Santosh’s Dakar 2016 wasn’t a success. Wasn’t a failure either.


CS Santosh failed to finish at the 2016 edition of Dakar Rally and that’s only made him hungrier
CS Santosh trains at the Sam Dunes in Jaisalmer (Image credit: Ali Bharmal/Red Bull Content Pool)


Finishing at a respectable 36th place, CS Santosh tasted success at his very firstDakar rally in 2015 . This year however, he had contrasting result. His Suzuki was marred with issues from the very first day and at the 12th stage, he machine finally gave up. While the Dakar website shows a ‘DNF’ against Santosh Chunchunguppe Shivashankar’s name and though the man himself terms his 2016 outing as a “huge disappointment”, there were quite a few positives too.
Speed
Unlike in 2015, this year showcased Santosh to be a lot more confident a lot more complete rider. He was attacking from day 1. On hindsight, he thinks it was a bad decision because since he was in attack mode even during harsh part of the rally, he ended up filling up his air box with some fresh water at one of the river crossings. However it was this attacking attitude which took him from 128th position at the end of the first stage to 79th place on the fourth stage – his last day on the saddle. This, despite CS Santosh admitting that “The Suzuki lacked top end speed; it was short by at least 40 km on KTM.”
As I stayed back and saw other riders finishing the race, it lit a fire inside me. I have a lot of belief that one day I’m going to be one of the top guys.
Santosh during one of his training sessions (Image Credit: Ali Bharmal / Red Bull Content Pool)

Never-say-die attitude
Last year, the world saw a rider who just didn’t want to give up even when he had fractured his foot and had to be lifted off his bike. This year, the Bangalorean left started right from where he left off last year. His bike had a number of problems and yet he was intent on making it work. “For 40 km I was riding with one hand with the navigation tower in the other. The tower was moving all over and the wiring kept getting short circuited at regular intervals. I almost had to walk my bike across the finish line at the check point of stage 4,” said the 32-year-old. Unfortunately, it being a marathon stage, he couldn’t get any help from his crew bringing a premature end to his race.
Physically fit
While CS Santosh has always had an athletic built, after the Dakar 2015, he realized that if he were to succeed to Dakar, he’ll had to raise his fitness level. He’s spent the better part of 2015 working on his stamina to make sure that his body can last through those gruelling marathon stages of Dakar. This meant that despite a disappointing early finish, not even once he felt that his body would give it up. The failing of the human element was out of contention. Alas, it was the machine element that failed him.
Hungry for success
“I was initially very disappointed [after my race ended at stage 4]. But as I stayed back and saw other riders finishing the race, it lit a fire inside me. I have a lot of belief that one day I’m going to be one of the top guys. I don’t just want to be at the top, I also want to earn respect,” these were the words of the 2015 Raid de Himalaya champion.
Focussed planning
It seems that CS has got it all planned out for rest of the year. There are bunch of things on his check list for 2016 to make him a better rider. When asked about his plans for 2016, Santosh said with conviction, “This year I HAVE to do two rounds of Cross Country Championship, mostly, it’ll be Morocco and Chile rounds. I also want to stay in Morocco and ride for at least 10-15 days.”

 
Looks like CS Santosh has figured out that there’s no point crying over spilled milk or a submerged air box. Though he had an early sunset at this year’s Dakar, for him, the 2016 just begun.

Disclaimer: This article was first published on RedBull.com.

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