Aravind KP will ride for Sherco TVS at the 2017 Dakar rally
And then there were two.
We were thrilled when CS Santosh made his debut at the 2015 Dakar rally, and we were just as thrilled to hear he's heading there again next year with Hero MotoSports. Now, CS is going to have company\: TVS Racing is taking Aravind KP to the most gruelling rally raid there is.
KP has been waiting in the wings for a long time. He has been a TVS factory rider for over a decade, and has been looking forward to the Dakar ever since CS found a way in.
'I've been thinking about doing the Dakar for around two-and-a-half years, now, and it was just a little less than a month ago when Arvind (Pangaonkar, TVS Racing head) sir told me I was to go. A dream come true, like they say' said KP speaking to TG.com.
Pangaonkar tells us KP's time has come. 'We've been making progress at the Dakar. The first year was all about learning, last year, our team of mechanics handled one motorcycle successfully, and hiring an Indian rider was always in the pipeline. KP has been winning races all over India, and it was a natural choice for us to make.'
But at the same time, they're also being quite realistic.
'We're not going there to win -- the point of the Dakar is not in the winning. It's in the journey. You go there and give it your best, and what you get is what you get. You can't plan, claim or predict. We'll focus on helping KP work on his navigation skills, and we'll see how it goes from there', said Pangaonkar.
KP will be riding alongside Spaniard Joan Pedrero, and another European rider who is yet to be selected. In all, Sherco TVS Rally Factory team will run three entries, and KP will sample the RTR 450FX for the first time in Spain.
There is a possibility, says Pangaonkar, of KP competing in a European round, and then moving on to the OiLibya Rally of Morocco, which is the final warm-up session -- so to speak -- before they head to the mother of all rallies, which starts January 2.
By the time the rally comes to a close on January 14, the riders will have covered over 9,000km, having dealt with the cruel weather, unforgiving special stages and almost every conceivable difficulty one can face on a motorcycle riding through three countries\: Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. And hopefully, we'll see both of our countrymen on the podium that day.