India’s first ever World Cross Country championship participant, 29-year-old C S Santosh returned to his home at Bangalore after his debut run in the deserts of Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago saw him suffer third degree burns that nearly cost him his life, leaving him with much needed emergency hospitalization and skin grafts.
The Bangalore native was running well in the top 15 and the incident occurred on fourth day of the event, forcing him to drop out, when he was only 20-kms from the finish line (overall distance to be covered on day four was 266 km). When his Suzuki MX450Z caught fire due to a fuel overflow issue and an overheating which melted his riding gear and scarred parts of his body.
Luckily, he was rescued when a four-wheeler class competitor crew of the BMW X-Raid team stopped by and remained by his side until the rescue chopper arrived, where he underwent first-aid followed by skin grafts. Later, Santosh under-went surgery and spent the past two weeks at Mafraq hospital’s burns centre before returning to Bangalore on Saturday.
Privateer Santosh’s injuries put paid to his dreams of competing in the Qatar Sealine Cross country (April 21-26) and he will need another four months to recover. “It was a hot day and the bike was overheating,” Santosh said. “I contemplated stopping but the finish wasn’t far, so I thought that I’d make it using high gears to cool the engine and so on. In retrospect, I should have stopped. I had been running low on fuel so I switched on the secondary tank which pumps into the main one while riding,” he added.
However, during the transfer, fuel overflowed and came in contact with hot engine parts that resulted in a fire, leaving Santosh with third-degree burns and ending his rally prematurely. “Having realized there was a fire, I got off and stood there frozen for a few seconds as my riding gear zipper and helmet strap melted. I hadn’t expected anything like this and I didn’t want to breathe my last in the middle of a desert,” he said.
Santosh struggled to undo his gear and helmet with no success and decided to roll in the sand to douse the flames before the crew of BMW X-Raid team stopped to help the youngster. “I could not believe that I was in that situation. Now that the worst is behind me, I just want to recover, train and get back on the bike as soon as possible to continue my preparation for my ultimate goal, which is the Dakar Rally,” he said.
“Get well soon, Santosh! BharthAutos wishes the India ace a speedy recovery.”
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Image Credit – XBhp.com