The Dakar Rally Is Saddened by Loss, and Two Crashes This Year

The Dakar Rally (or simply “The Dakar“; formerly known as the “Paris–Dakar Rally“) is an annual rally raid organized by the Amaury Sport Organization. This year it is saddened by icon was three-time Dakar champion Hubert Auriol and the King of Dakar has died at 68. Also, the current 2021 race has also claimed its first two victims as Hero MotoCorp Rider CS Santosh and Former Dakar Champion Toby Price both crashed. AMERiders has the story

The King of Dakar was 68 years old.

dakar rally

The Dakar Rally has given us some greats over the years. From Cyril Neveu taking the first championship to Stephane Peterhansel racking up six titles to Ricky Brabec conquering the 2020 competition, the annual rally raid has produced countless legends of the sport. One such icon was three-time Dakar champion Hubert Auriol and the King of Dakar has died at 68.

Born in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Auriol earned the nickname l’Africano and competed in the very first Paris-Dakar Rally in 1979. Aboard a BMW R80G/S, Auriol earned the Dakar crown in 1981 and again in 1984. Just nine years later, the accomplished rider took his talents to the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution team, winning the 1992 Dakar in a car. Known for becoming the first person to win the world’s toughest rally on two and four wheels, Auriol also acted as the Dakar race director for nearly a decade.

The French rider lived with heart disease for many years and contracting COVID-19 only worsened his health conditions. Unfortunately, Auriol succumbed to the novel coronavirus after battling illness since November 2020. In light of his passing, riders worldwide recognize the Dakar legend’s contributions to the sport.

“He inspired generations of riders and drivers and has been an integral part of the rally throughout its history,” said Dakar organizers in a released statement.

Thanks to Auriol’s inspiring 1992 Dakar win, champions such as Stephane Peterhansel and Nani Roma also won the rally by car. Hopefully, his legendary career will inspire current Dakar champions to take on the desert on four wheels after conquering it on two. Who wouldn’t want to see two-time champ Toby Price or last year’s winner Ricky Brabec take on the dunes in a buggy?

Fellow riders assisted CS Santosh until the medical team arrived.

dakar rally

Hero Motosports official statement

Our Hero MotoSports Team Rally rider CS Santosh is currently receiving treatment at the Saudi German Hospital in Riyadh, after a high-speed crash on Wednesday in Stage 4 of the 2021 Dakar Rally.  

We are pleased to share that he has no major physical injuries except for the dislocated right shoulder and head trauma. The latest scans have also shown no major issue that could impact his full recovery.  

The medical team attending to him have decided that the best approach to manage the injury is to reduce the body functions to a minimum and keep him in a sedated condition or an artificial coma. He is receiving the best possible medical care and will continue to be under constant observation for the next few days.  

We express our deepest gratitude and thanks to the riders who extended their help to Santosh. We also want to thank the organizers for getting the medical and rescue teams on the spot in quick time and airlifting him to reach the hospital quickly.  

We are also most grateful to all of you for pouring in your prayers and wishes from all over the world for the speedy recovery of Santosh and your overwhelming support to our team.  

The entire Hero MotoSports Team Rally and the extended Hero Family is fully committed to aid the recovery and rehabilitation of our teammate.

Information about the crash.

After a bad crash on stage four (Wed January 6th 2021) of the 2021 Dakar Rally, Hero MotoCorp rider CS Santosh is currently in a medically-induced coma at a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Thankfully, the team says he’s currently in stable condition. 

Santosh, whose full name is Santosh Chunchunguppe Shivashankar, was competing in his seventh Dakar rally in 2021. He was teammates with Dakar veteran Paulo Gonçalves in 2020, when the latter rider sadly died during the event. Understandably, Santosh and the rest of the Hero team withdrew from the event following Gonçalves’ death.  

In his bio for the 2021 event, Santosh wrote, “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.” 
He continued, “My heart sank when I was told about Paulo last year. Dakar didn’t feel like Dakar anymore. You never imagine that the worst could happen. It was overwhelming, Paulo was always jovial. The expectations sat lightly on him. He never looked at racing as a job. He created a good atmosphere where the pressure was lifted off the others riders. He gave me small tips, which were so helpful. Paulo was a real leader. Paulo would have wanted us to keep going and continue to race hard—that’s what I intend to do.” 

Thankfully, fellow riders were in close physical proximity to Santosh right after he crashed. Italian rider Maurizio Gerini and Dutch rider Paul Spierings worked together to rescuscitate Santosh after they couldn’t feel his pulse. A medical helicopter arrived within 15 minutes, by which time Spierings told Rallymaniacs that Santosh had regained both his pulse and consciousness. 

The Rally struck again on Tuesday Jan 12th

The 43rd Dakar Rally struck again on Tuesday. Thanks to a particularly technical and sand-heavy 2021 route, the world’s toughest race has become a war of attrition. After Hero MotoCorp rider CS Santosh’s campaign ended in Stage 4, numerous other competitors have also relinquished their bid for the desert crown. Most notably, Toby Price of Red Bull KTM had to surrender his attempt to capture a third Dakar title after a Stage 9 crash.

Just 96 miles into today’s leg, Price sustained injuries to his head, shoulder, and wrist. The collision required medical services to airlift the Australian rider to a nearby hospital in Tabuk. Luckily, Price remains conscious and will undergo x-rays and further evaluation over the next few days. The crash comes after a marathon stage fraught with tire issues for Price. With a large gash in his rear tire, the Red Bull KTM rider had to fashion a patch out of duct tape and zip ties. He managed to limp to the Stage 8 finish line (with one zip tie intact), but the following stage proved too much for the two-time Dakar champ to overcome.

dakar rally

Price’s exit comes after a flurry of race-ending injuries and mechanical problems for fellow competitors. Recently, Husqvarna rider and leader after four legs Xavier De Soultrait crashed out in Stage 8. Just one day later, Rockstar Husqvarna’s Luciano Benavides also called it quits due a shoulder injury and Monster Energy Yamaha’s Ross Branch had to cancel his race as a result of engine issues.

After nine stages, Monster Energy Honda’s Kevin Benavides, Ricky Brabec, and Jose Ignacio Cornejo stand atop the leaderboard, respectively. Close behind, Toby Price’s Red Bull KTM teammates Sam Sunderland and Matthias Walkner are less than 15 minutes behind the leader. With three more legs to go, the standings will surely shuffle before the final finish line. We just hope as many racers as possible can complete all 12 stages and avoid further injuries.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~




Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on the loss and more of the Dakar Rally for 2021.

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