India Baja: TVS rider Santolino and Saikia score wins
TVS Racing’s Lorenzo Santolino secured victory in the Moto class of India Baja, beating India’s only Dakar finisher CS Santosh.
Santosh, who was riding for Hero MotoSports Team Rally, trailed Santolino by just under five minutes heading into the final leg on Sunday, but a 30-minute penalty in the last stage dropped him completely out of contention for victory.
He eventually finished 24m32s behind Santolino, who was taking part in only his second rally in India.
“This victory is really a very happy moment for me given that I was pretty close to winning the Desert Storm Rally earlier this year in the same terrains, but could not,” Santolino said.
“I would like to thank my whole team and my supporters for making it possible. I think India Baja is a great event. This organization is doing a brilliant job. The stages were sandy yet fast.”
Abdul Wahid Tanveer secured the final spot on the podium, while Harith Noah and Imran Pasha finished fourth and fifth to ensure four riders from TVS inside the top-five.
Saikia clinches Xtreme category
Arindam Saikia scored a surprise victory in the Xtreme category in a privately-run Polaris. He narrowly beat Himanshu Arora to victory, with Narayan Balan completing the podium spots.
“It was a very hard fought victory,” he explained. The tracks were awesome; the stages were good, and the entire event was very competitive.
“I knew that this event was going to be completely about navigation through the desert. Before this event, we used to get gpx tracks.
“But at this particular edition of India Baja, we had to navigate manually through roadbook with very less way points. So, we had worked hard on our navigational skills and that really worked in our favour.”
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