India’s highly rated motorcycle rallyist CS Santosh is hopeful for a grand return to the dirt track and preparing hard to make himself available for the Dakar 2025 rally. CS Santosh is the first Indian to compete and complete the Dakar rally, not only once, but thrice.
The Indian star suffered a high-speed crash and suspected a head injury in Dakar 2021, which involved brain trauma, vision issues, loss of motor skills, partial memory loss, and depression. Since then Santosh went into a recovery process to make a strong comeback.
During this rehabilitation process, Santosh couldn’t go far away from the sport, as he turned his passion into entrepreneurship by co-owning BigRock Motorsport – one of the six teams of ISRL. After the conclusion of the first leg in Pune, his team led the standings.
CS Santosh hopeful for a grand return
Recently, after the conclusion of ISRL’s first leg, CS Santosh opined on his chances to return to the game which he loves abundantly, in an interview with Hindustan times. “This shows me who I was. I need to come back (to racing) to get rid of these emotions. I should feel happy that I am doing this, but the fact is I am still wanting to be out there,” Santosh said.
CS Santosh will soon return to the mud track in May at the Hellas Rally raid in Greece, on his hound to return to Dakar 2025. This will be his first rally since his crash back in 2021. “I am going to be back to racing this year. You will see me racing in May in my first rally (since the crash). It will be in Greece (Hellas Rally Raid). I will have confirmation at the end of February,” Santosh said.
Santosh’s ultimate goal is to participate in Dakar 2025. He will be using the not-highly competitive Greece’s rally to qualify for Dakar. Santosh needs to finish three rallies to qualify for Dakar 2025 for which he is planning to also take part in Baja Aragon in Spain and Rallye du Maroc (Morocco) later in the year.
Before starting his training, Santosh has to be given a go-ahead by the Red Bull Athlete Performance Center in Salzburg. Santosh was deemed fit two years back when he first visited the center. But this time around he is hopeful for positive results.
“I wanted to go racing two years back but APC said there’s no way we can give you an approval. I was devastated. But now it’s been three years. I paid my dues in this manner (by waiting). I will go back again to Red Bull APC (this month) and they will see the gains I have made. From my perspective, I am healed. I have the opportunity now to say that I can go back. I didn’t have that before,” said Santosh.
“Usually when you have crashes, you have injuries that take away certain movements from your body. You feel a restriction. For me, it was the CPU (brain). Some of the chemicals that secreted, some of the enzymes went missing. Now it is back again.”
Santosh will be training temporarily in Kolar at BigRock Dirt Park – an off-road facility that he owns. Harith Noah, who finished at an impressive 11th spot at Dakar 2024 was also trained here.
Santosh has heaps of praise for Harith’s incredible achievement, “First of all, it was a dream for Harith to finish in the top 20 (in 2021) and then to finish 11th…I have no words. For me, it is like winning the Dakar. It was incredible he was able to do that. I knew that he had this potential. The guy had that kind of talent and the fact that he is putting it to use in this manner, it’s beyond words. I didn’t even dream that he would be able to do it so early,” concluded Santosh.