“Racing gave me something to focus on with passion”
In the Dakar's 40 years of history, Santosh Chunchunguppe Shivashankar will be remembered as the first ever Indian competitor to take part in the event. It was back in 2015 and not only did the man known as “CS Santosh” start the rally, he also finished it in style at a fine 36th position. He also managed to raise enough awareness back home to seduce Hero, the biggest selling motorcycle brand in India. Chapter 1 of his ride with Hero went as planned. The Indian reached the finish again a year after the disappointment of having to quit early in 2016. The goal is now to continue improving on a better, lighter, safer bike that he was able to test during the last Morocco Rally that he finished at a good 13th position. Santosh dreams of being able to compete with the best but first wants to enjoy the moment, “racing in the most beautiful places in the world”.
“Funnily I never watched any motorsports before the age of 16. I have absolutely no motorsports background in my family. I was raised to go to college and probably work in software. Then my dad bought me a bike to go to school and that's when my love of riding really started. Racing probably saved me from getting into trouble. It gave me something to focus on with passion. As a kid, while growing up, I remember being fascinated by adventure, and that fascination continues to this day. Last year for my first Dakar with Hero, the main objective was to finish and add experience in the ‘bank'. I had my ups and downs but the brand was happy. I've changed my outlook at racing and that gives me better results. I'm enjoying the sport, racing in the most beautiful places in the world. So the ambition remains the same: to finish. As long as you're good every day, having fun, you'll get a good result. Of course I want to be able to compete with the best but I want to take it day by day. It's great to return to Peru and start off with dunes. I'm getting better at it. The 40th edition? For me every year is special, whether it's the 40th, the 43rd or the 50th. I want to carry on promoting the sport in india and Hero has also done its bit, getting even bigger visibility.”