Dakar Rally: KP Aravind pulls out with broken ankle, injury toll increases

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The notorious rally spans a healthy portion of January, this year running Jan 6-20, with a rest day in La Paz, Bolivia, for a total of 14 stages and nearly 5,600 miles of race fun. Santosh's teammate, Orio Mena, is placed 21st and the debutant rider has a good chance to finish in the top 20. The Spaniard finished 11th, which puts him in the top 15 for the second time in the 2018 Dakar. After having been 33rd in the overall standings after the first four stages, his unfortunate injury saw him drop out of the classification.

Speaking of his performance in Stage 5, Oriol Mena said, "It was probably one of the toughest stage of the Dakar 2018 and new experience for me". "I'm very happy too, because the idea was to get as high up the rankings as possible before the rest stage, so I cannot be happier".

Unpredictable weather played the real cards yesterday and the first part of the 6th stage from Arequipa to La Paz had to be cancelled owing to bad weather and foggy conditions.

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"It was a tough day today, but we managed to make the best out of it", Quintanilla said. Aravind had also hurt his wrist previous year after falling off the bike and had to withdraw from the race, leaving his dreams of completing the entire Dakar route unfilled. The Indian rider had to cut his Dakar run short this year as well after a crash broke his ankle.

Santosh made a decision to play it safe and steady as the rally neared the halfway mark to finish the stage at 52nd position. I was feeling a bit exhausted in the morning as I didn't have a good sleep, so it took me a little time to get going in the stage. With 268 km of sand dunes and then mountainous terrain, this stage was the toughest so far as riders fought hard to complete the 770 km long journey to Arequipa. "Before the re-fuelling station I had slight problem and lost a few minutes there but happy that I finished today and now have one day less to arrive at Cordoba". The competitors now get a much-deserved rest day on 12th January, to rest their exhausted and bruised bodies and minds before the second leg of the rally kicks off. With organisers separating the route for different categories, the cars and trucks were the first to make their way through the mammoth 774km route, followed by the quads and bikes.

After tackling the sand dunes, the drivers and riders will next have to tackle the high mountains of Bolivia.

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