Printed On Dec 19, 2021 07:00:00 AM
Forward of Dakar 2022, we meet up with Harith Noah to debate the pressures of residing as much as his 2021 document, his preparation for the upcoming version and extra.
It’s practically time for the 2022 Dakar Rally. The 2021 version noticed Harith Noah make historical past, together with his 20th-place outcome being the all time rating achieved by an Indian on the Dakar. And he’s now gearing as much as deal with the deserts of Saudi Arabia as soon as once more, and maybe even higher his personal document.
We meet up with the TVS-backed rider to debate his preparation for Dakar 2022, updates on his RTR 450 rally bike and extra:
Noah’s spectacular Dakar 2021 outcome made him the primary Indian to complete within the prime 20 of the gruelling occasion. However that landmark achievement additionally brings with it added strain, now that he’s heading into the 2022 version.
The Dakar is a bodily and psychological take a look at in contrast to some other, and Noah admits that there’s undoubtedly strain to dwell as much as his earlier outcome. “You attempt to keep away from it as a lot as you may however it’s [the pressure] going to be there. For certain, you’ve got it behind your head that you’ve got completed 20th and also you wish to do higher otherwise you wish to do the identical,” he says.
In an occasion the place merely reaching the end line is an enormous achievement, Noah has a easy mantra – deal with the method and the outcomes will comply with. “I’m not wanting on the outcomes or the ultimate objective. I’m simply it kilometre-by-kilometre. I’m simply making an attempt to deal with the second, dwell within the current and making an attempt to do the most effective at the moment,” he provides.
2022 Dakar route: Extra sand than ever earlier than
For 2022, Dakar organisers have promised “sand in all shapes and colors”. Positive, sand has all the time featured on the newest Saudi Arabian leg of the Dakar, however the upcoming version will characteristic sand and dunes extra closely than ever earlier than.
The lesser rocky levels will enable contributors to benefit from the panorama, however navigation shall be trickier than ever. And this is among the key areas that Noah has targeted on. “On the second Dakar, the navigation grew to become way more tough and I imagine it’s going to be the identical this yr,” he says.
Noah additional explains, “Whenever you do the navigation in the course of the race, typically it’s straightforward after which abruptly it turns into laborious. So when it’s straightforward, you may journey at a quicker tempo and when it’s tougher, it’s a must to decelerate to a slower pace. And to regulate that may be very tough at occasions,”
“In order that’s an space I’m making an attempt to deal with – to deliver down my pace when it will get tough after which deliver it again up when it turns into simpler.”
RTR 450 rally bike updates
Very like 2021, Noah will as soon as once more compete within the Dakar as a privateer with Sherco, together with backing from TVS. However there shall be some large updates on his RTR 450 rally bike.
“It’s fairly new this yr,” he says. “The ergonomics of the bike is totally different, it’s a lot smaller, it’s lighter as nicely. It seems utterly totally different, and likewise some electrics are totally different,” mentioned Noah.
He additional said that “The engine and body is just about the identical. However sure, it feels a lot better. I rode it a few occasions and it’s way more nimble and agile.”
Using on sand is an unfamiliar process for a lot of riders in India, as most of them are used to coaching on hard-pack land. Whereas Noah admits that he’s not probably the most snug on sand, he additionally believes he’s a lot better acclimated now than he was final yr.
That is primarily as a result of, in contrast to final time, he was in a position to compete within the 2021 Morocco Rally and even completed 20th. The occasion is regarded by many as the final word pre-Dakar take a look at as a result of the situations are fairly comparable. “I’m extra snug than final yr as a result of this yr we acquired the prospect to go to Morocco and practice there. Final yr, once we went for the Dakar, we didn’t go to Morocco in any respect. We didn’t journey on sand earlier than going to the race resulting from restrictions,” he says.
He factors out that no quantity of coaching can match really getting time on the bike in the proper situations. It’s why he’s spent numerous time coaching in Morocco this yr. And whereas latest COVID-19 restrictions disrupted his plans, he’s discovered a workaround and is presently coaching in Spain. He explains, “using the rally bike in a stage just like the Dakar, like for instance in Morocco, is essential and the extra you get to try this, the higher ready you’re going to be.”
The 2022 Dakar Rally will run from January 1-14. Noah shall be representing India together with one other privateer, Ashish Raorane. CS Santosh will sit out as he continues his restoration journey following his crash earlier this yr. Nonetheless, Indian squad Hero MotoSports shall be competing with Joaquim Rodrigues and Franco Caimi.