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Dakar 2022: India's lone rider Harith Noah eyes a good show in Saudi Arabian deserts

Harith Noah

Bengaluru, December 31: Harith Noah is all set for his third Dakar Rally in the Saudi Arabian deserts, as the toughest and longest cross-country rally in the world acquires a double World Championship status, with both FIA and FIM, coming together for a five-round for both four-wheelers and bikes.

The 2022 FIA Dakar Rally departs from Hail on January 2 and finishes in Jeddah on January 14.

With more than 1,000 people lining up to race nearly 7,500km across Saudi Arabian deserts, the 2022 Dakar Rally promises to be another epic rally-raid adventure over the sand dunes with a host of established global stars and talented young racers out to impress.

As per a Media Release, after training abroad for over three months and fine-tuning his road-book and navigational skills in France and Spain, the Kerala star sponsored by TVS Factory Racing, is looking forward to finishing the Dakar once again astride a brand new Sherco 450 SEF Rally with tuner assistance from Sherco TVS Rally Factory team, which includes his engineer Prakasam.

"It is nimble and lighter and will help me in the super long race beginning with over 600kms of riding including liaison for Prologue on New Year's day," he said from Jeddah, before embarking on a shakedown.

Harith Noah gears up for Dakar 2022Harith Noah gears up for Dakar 2022

Prologue is bang in the middle of two transport sections, the 19kms special section sprint on dirt tracks and small dunes, will provide the riders a chance to test their bikes and also the first 15, in each category, will get a chance to choose their starting order for next day.

The 28-year-old Sports Science graduate from Shoranur, will be flying the Tricolour as a lone privateer from India.

"I had a quiet and safe Christmas with my girlfriend and friends like family. I am relaxed and ready for the prologue with a long liaison and a longer event ahead. I am in the same truck as my team-mate Rui. The target is to finish Dakar again," added Noah, who has Lorenzo Santolino and Rui Goncalves, as team-mates.

He finished overall 20th last January to become the fastest in Dakar from India beating pioneer CS Santosh's 34th-place finish, in 2018.

TVS compatriot KP Aravind from Bengaluru and privateer Mumbai mariner Ashish Raorane are the only other Indians who have taken part in Dakar.

Noah, who made his debut in 2020, completed the Dakar in the Experience Class that year and went on to beat the Indian record last year in January 2021.

Four things to know about Dakar Rally 2022Four things to know about Dakar Rally 2022

The 44th Dakar rally begins with a Prologue on Saturday (January 1) and the 12 long Stages will conclude on January 14. The rest day at Riyadh will be on January 8.

Organised by Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), it will be the third edition of Dakar in Saudi Arabia.

The specials will start in Ha'il and end in Jeddah, going through canyons and cliffs in the Neom region, passing by the Red Sea coastline, into stretches of dunes surrounding Riyadh, with a lot more action on sand dunes in the Empty Quarter.

The total distance of the route is nearly 7,500 kms. Only an elite few, who were successful in another qualifier, join the world's best at premier break-or-make event in the cross-country rally world.

The risks for the most-demanding off-road races get bigger every year as the talent pool also gets deeper, with organisers ASO out to contain top speeds by keeping the roadbooks tight and tough, meaning navigation is crucial.

The highly competitive field will try their hardest to complete all 13 stages from Jeddah to Ha'il and Riyadh then back again with a slew of fascinating stories set to play out across the respective vehicle categories.

Fasten your seat belts! It's Dakar time yet again!

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Story first published: Friday, December 31, 2021, 15:28 [IST]
Other articles published on Dec 31, 2021