Ashish Raorane becomes 4th ever Indian to qualify for Dakar Rally
After pioneer CS Santosh, KP Arvind and Harith Noah completed Dakar, Raorane became the fourth Indian to complete in Dakar Experience class in 2021. The dream continues next January at Dakar 2024.
Ace Indian motorsports athlete Ashish Raorane, braving a severe muscle injury, finished Rally2 category in a creditable 11th place in the 7-day gruelling Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (ADDC), the second round of the FIM World Rally Raid Championship (W2RC) on Friday, and qualified for Dakar 2024.
The rigorous Desert Challenge saw some of the Dakar veterans racing across a route spanning 1,915kms of the demanding and treacherous terrain amidst the sprawling sand dunes.
Competing with some of the biggest names in motorsports, the 41-year-old Pune rider, conquered the international cross-country rally astride a KTM 450 Rally Factory Replica to seal his entry for the Dakar 2024.
Pumping in painkillers, the former marine engineer successfully completed the final day’s Stage 5 for an Overall P20 among 49 participants and came 11th in his class. He clocked a total time of 25:09.05.
“I am delighted and happy that the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is in the bag. Going in I knew this was a tough and very physically-demanding rally and I am happy to have persevered despite the multiple challenges,” said Raorane, who is supported by Rynox Gears, Dosmoto Design, Motousher, Bigbadbikes and LazyAssBikers.
Riders are required to complete at least one FIM-sanctioned World Championship race or other rally that falls under the “Road to Dakar” label and completing ADDC clears the road for Raorane’s Dakar 2024 participation.
The #34 team ‘Xraids Experience’ rider went through a harrowing time, but with great determination, Raorane came back strongly every day, to complete the daunting rally. He suffered the fuel-range anxiety with a lost front fuel tank in Stage 1 at around the 204-kms mark and also saw the air bag deployed during a hard landing in the ‘empty quarter’ and ended the day’s competitive section with fumes in the rear fuel tank.
The next day in Stage 2, was another big challenge spotting the drop-offs. The Indian was caught out coming off a dune crest and “the earth below suddenly vanished”.
The worst was on Stage 3 on March 1 and it looked as though the rally ended in disappointment, when Raorane suffered a massive crash and ruptured his right bicep muscle but carried on for another 160kms, undaunted. Despite extreme pain, he managed to finish the day’s competitive section. Later, Raorane recovered and after doctor’s clearance, he came back next day stronger and despite a painful arm, completed the last two days where he also overcame another minor fall and malfunctioning of his Roadbook roll.
An adventure travel rider, Raorane had claimed a podium on debut in the Indian National Racing Championship (INRC) round at Nashik in 2015 and soon took to cross-country rallies like a duck to water. He took part in the almighty Raid de Himalaya and many other bigger national and international events including polished him into a high-performance Rally Raid athlete that laid the seed for his Dakar dream, the mother of all rallies.
After pioneer CS Santosh, KP Arvind and Harith Noah completed Dakar, Raorane, became the fourth Indian to complete in Dakar Experience class in 2021. The dream continues next January, at Dakar 2024.