For more than 36 years, TVS Racing has been the go-to foundry for aspiring racers in India, where we mould raw and talented individuals into solid, world-class professionals. TVS Racing has been taking big leaps too, where we compete with the best from across the World at the toughest of racing events known to Mankind. At the Dakar 2019 this year, India and we, found Gold in one of the finest Motorcycle Rallyists from the country – Aravind KP.
Astride bike no 48, Aravind got third time lucky as he crossed the finish line after dusting off all the challenging stages of the Dakar 2019 and the mental weight of his past two unsuccessful attempts. For anyone even remotely educated about what happens at the Dakar, they would know that it is the ultimate test of endurance and ability, where Man, Machines and all their metal and bones combined, are pushed to the very limit. No wonder then, all those who step beyond the finish line after the ultimate stage, automatically attract the tag of being a ‘Legend‘.
Only the second Indian to have achieved the feat of finishing the Dakar Rally, behind the euphoria that we share with Aravind as a team, there’s a story of struggles, both mental and physical. During his first attempt to conquer the Dakar in 2017, Aravind first broke his wrist during the second stage, and then his shoulder during the third, leading to early retirement. During his second attempt in 2018, Stage 5 turned out to be his bane, leaving him with a broken ankle, another retirement and nearly a year off his motorcycle.
Clouds still hovered upon his luck when he managed to swing a leg over a motorcycle in September and a crash in the first stage of the Pan Africa Rally handed him a wrist injury and a disappointing journey back home. But just like the one we’ve covered through the years, this is where Aravind’s Grit to Glory journey began. Submitting all his strength and abilities to a goal that he had set in his mind, Aravind managed to put behind the four surgeries he went through in 2018. In an event where only 55% of the participants managed to finish, Aravind pulled out the Sun inside and lined up at the starting line of the Dakar 2019, for his and TVS Racing’s name to shine brightly at the 37th spot.
Getting there wasn’t easy. But just like all steel-willed individuals who count their shortcomings as a blessing in disguise. Battling multiple injuries, he says his physical state trained his mind to tread with caution and that worked in his favour. However, caution alone does not lead to triumph and just like life’s uncertainties, the Dakar Rally throws unexpected spanners in the path of a racer which has no mention in the roadbook at all.
With the goal to just finish the stage each day and bring the bike home, Aravind started Day 1 by riding at a little more than half of his potential. Riding with a considerable amount of pain in his wrist, when the going got too rough, he would ease off and not push. For the first week of the Dakar 2019, Aravind just intended to be among the finishers.
But it was during the second week when he realised that he was able to ride better than before and began to claw up the timesheets. He adopted a different riding style to compensate for his injured wrist and got himself into a mental state where the pain takes a backseat and the mind focuses on the job at hand. What had sent him back home the previous year, stage 5 made him realise his own potential and Aravind then started riding faster, better and even passed other riders along the way.
At the end of what is being called the most physically excruciating Dakar event ever, sometimes through four feet of fesh-fesh, never-ending sand dunes, rocks, boulders, sandstorms and fog, Aravind stood tall, with a smile and a lot of unmeasurable weight off his mind.
Before his triumphant moment, KP’s pillars of strength through all his testing times have been his teammates – Adrian, Michael and Lorenzo. His support team and his Mechanic, R Prakasan, who has been the most important wheel in KP’s journey for believing in him through setbacks and disappointments. KP’s parents deserve a special mention on all his 17 national titles, for fuelling his ambition during his formative years as a private racer.
As we prepare for our 2020 Dakar campaign with Aravind, from the moment the light turns green, till the time the watch stops ticking, it is just the time in between. For us, the race is always on. It is a relentless, never-ending process where the race to hammer metal into gold continues, beyond the chequered flag.