Nataraj relishes 2017 Desert Storm Moto class victory
TVS Racing's R Nataraj says he is satisfied with his performance in the 2017 edition of the Desert Storm, where he took the Moto category win ahead of teammate Tanveer Abdul Wahid.
The Indian started the cross-country rally in the deserts of Rajasthan with a third place finish in Leg 1, before taking second from Wahid in the second leg.
The 31-year-old then maintained the position behind rally favourite Hero's CS Santosh, fresh from his Dakar finish, until the final day of the event.
A 35-minutes time penalty to Santosh meant the Bangalore-born rider dropped third with Nataraj taking the win and leading a TVS 1-2, as Wahid ended up second.
"Desert Storm was always going to be interesting with the new competitors around. But we [Tanveer and I] put our experience to good use to keep up the pace all through," said Nataraj to Motorsport.com.
"The route has been made more complex and it was very new to us. The team did a great job to ensure that we executed our strategies and finished 1 and 2.
"The RTR 450 is a bike that I have been riding for a few years now and that comfort aided my performance," explained the two-time Raid de Himalaya and Dakshin Dare champion.
"I knew the strengths of the bike while navigating through the loose desert sands and focused on increasing my pace in these stretches."
When asked on his future, whether he would follow Aravind KP and take a step into international shores, Nataraj said his immediate focus lay in competing in the Indian rallies.
However, with a new initiative by the ASO to form a ladder for riders, the winner of the Indian Baja will get a free entry to Merzouga Rally and will be assessed for a place in Dakar - thereby paving a way for the likes of Nataraj.
"Yes, I heard about it," the eight-time National champion acknowledged. "[However] TVS Racing is working on the racing calendar for the new season and I will go by the decision of the team."
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