Having surprised everyone, including himself, with a creditable 36th place finish at his first ever Dakar Rally, biker CS Santosh has now set his sights on finishing among the top 20 bikers next year.

CS Santosh. Pic/Atul Kamble.
CS Santosh. Pic/Atul Kamble.

“I want to improve every year. Next year the aim is to finish in the top 20. When I started the race, I just wanted to finish. I hadn’t thought about ranking. But I was confident that I could finish despite it being my first year. If I didn’t think if could finish, I wouldn’t have gone for the race,” Santosh told mid-day after completing the 9,203-km cross-country race, touted as one of the toughest off-road races in the world.

The 14-day race saw Santosh riding on despite breaking his toe, a bloody nose, and a severely hurt shoulder as a result of multiple crashes on treacherous terrain in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. However, Santosh isn’t complaining.

“It has been non-stop action for two weeks. It was a constant rush, where you got off the bed and got on to your bike and then crashed on to your bed again at night after the day’s race. The highlight of the race was just making it through the 14 days. There’s so much uncertainty with a race like Dakar that you don’t know whether you will finish.

“The reception since I have gotten back has been overwhelming. I’m not used to this kind of reception. It will take me a few years to get used to this reception,” Santosh said.