New Delhi: C.S. Santosh’s run during the opening day of the Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm 2018 in Bikaner on Tuesday showed what difference experience and good form can make. Riding for the Hero MotoSports Team, the 35-year-old Bengalurean set the pace on Day 1 and completed the 86.5km special in 1 hour and 10 minutes and finished the day in pole position.

Santosh made good of the new Hero 450 RR bike to fight off competition from the international and domestic riders.

“Today was the first day of the Desert Storm with two short stages, the second one being a night stage. It was really fast from the word go and I tried to give it my best," said the former champion at the rally and the first Indian to participate in the Dakar Rally. “Overall I had a pretty good first day today with everything working well for me. Looking forward to some good racing in the next few days.

The second leg will task the riders with 496km run stage comprising 136km of special stages, all in desert riding conditions, from Bikaner to Jaisalmer. And although the rally is often unpredictable, looking at the performance on Day 1, Santosh seems to be a favourite to win.

In 2015, Santosh became the first Indian to participate in the Dakar Rally, arguably the most dangerous in the world, and even managed to complete it in his first attempt. This year he finished 35th overall.