Santosh, Mena continue good show at Dakar Rally
By Philem Dipak Singh
La Paz (Bolivia), Jan 12 (PTI) India's C S Santosh and Oriol Mena of Hero MotoSports team continued with their strong show in the gruelling Dakar Rally even as the sixth stage from Arequipa in Peru to La Paz was affected by weather.
The first part of the sixth stage from Arequipa to La Paz was cancelled owing to bad weather and foggy conditions for the riders.
The revised sixth stage was limited only to a 194km of timed section from the originally planned 313km but not before the riders tackled everything from snow, freezing temperature and rain, all this at an altitude of 4800m.
Both the bikers from Hero MotoSports team decided to be safe and cautious with an aim to successfully complete the first half of the Dakar Rally without any unwanted incident.
Spaniard Mena continued his solid run to finish the sixth stage at 23rd position and an overall 21st place.
Santosh continued his resurgence in the rankings, despite a troubled ankle owing to an earlier crash. He finished the sixth stage at 38th position and overall he stands at 51st place at the end of the first half of the Dakar Rally.
It has been an impressive start for the team upto the end of the first half of the rally, with two very good stages from Santosh, followed by a couple of difficult ones and a positive progress of Dakar rookie Mena, especially in the really tough stage 5.
All in all, it has been a good Dakar so far as the team has been able to fight off, all that the rally has thrown at them so far and stands strong at the half way mark.
"Bolivia has always been the turning point in the Dakar. It was really cold start in the morning and a very long liaison, and then it started to raining making things worse," Santosh said.
"We did not have dust today so I knew it was my best chance to pass a few guys and I tried to make the most of the opportunity.
"Overall good day and I brought the bike home. Now we rest for one day and then get ready for the final leg of the Dakar," said Santosh.
Mena said he played it safe today but he is focused on making to the finish line at Cordoba.
"Today was a difficult day due to rain so I decided to take it safe. I have my mind focused on making to the finish line at Cordoba so I did not want to commit any mistakes just before the half way mark.
"Today I decided to trade off safety for speed but it does not matter as there is still a long way to go into the rally. Now tomorrow we rest and the day after we start the party again," Mena said.
As the competitors rolled into the cold and rainy La Paz podium, they were cheered by thousands of people who thronged the podium area braving the bad weather.
The competitors will now get a much deserved rest day before the second leg of the rally kicks off.
The next stage of the rally will be from La Paz to Uyuni for the first marathon stage of 425 km.
As per the regulations, the riders will not be able to receive any assistance from the crew at their overnight halt at Uyuni and will be on their own