India’s Harith Noah is all set for a third innings in Dakar 2022 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 Worlds for both four-wheelers and bikes.
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 600 km of riding including liaison for Prologue on New Year’s day,” he said from Jeddah.
The Prologue is bang in the middle of two transport sections, the 19-km 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.
Noah, the 28-year Sports Science graduate, from Shoranur, Kerala, will be flying the Tricolour as a lone privateer from India. “I had a quiet and safe Christmas with my girlfriend, friends, and 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 teammate Rui. The target is to finish Dakar again,” Noah, who has Lorenzo Santolino and Rui Goncalves, as teammates, was quoted as saying in a release.
Noah finished overall 20th last January to become the fastest in Dakar from India, beating CS Santosh’s 36th place, in 2015. 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 coveted Dakar in the Experience Class that year and went on to beat the Indian record last year in January 2021.
The 44th Dakar rally begins with a Prologue on Saturday 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 over 7000 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.