After hovering around the fringes of top 50 for the past week, Indian rider C S Santosh finally broke into the half-century mark as he was classified 49th overall at the end of day seven.
Day 8 was one of the toughest of the Dakar so far (there are far too many such days on the Dakar!), after overnight rain left the tracks full of water with a salt lake crossing making things tougher for the riders.
Salt and rain wasn’t a very good combination for electronics as several riders endured mechanical issues on the stage, including Santosh.
“Bike totally died in the liaison but I jump started it and continued ", confirmed Santosh at the end of the stage.
The Indian ended up being 33rd fastest over the (shortened!) stage with a competitive distance of 378 kilometres – his best stage finish thus far. With his consistent pace combined with several riders falling prey to mechanical issues, propelled Santosh through the overall standings and he currently lies 42nd overall.
The 31-year old, riding a KTM Rally 450 for Team Kini Red Bull had endured several incidents in the couple of days, one of which fractured his toe but it doesn’t seem to be getting in way for the Indian rider anymore.
Only 82 riders of the 160-plus who started the Dakar are still in contention – with an amazing 50 percent attrition rate showing the scale of challenges. There are still five days of competition to go.
Sherco –TVS pair Alain Duclos and Fabien Planet also managed to survive the perils of day seven and make solid progress, ending the day 7th and 15th overall.
2015 Dakar Rally
At the end of day 8
1 COMA (ESP) KTM 28:51:12
2 GONCALVES (PRT) HONDA 29:00:23
3 QUINTANILLA (CHL) KTM 29:02:23
4 PRICE (AUS) KTM 29:07:08
5 SVITKO (SVK) KTM 29:17:42
*With inputs from Sukhwant Basra, Hindustan Times.