Lorenzo Santolino and Arindam Saikia win their categories at India Baja 2018

– Spain’s Lorenzo Santolino of TVS Racing won the Moto Category at India Baja
– Arindam Saikia (Co-driver Jeevarathinam J) emerged victorious in the Xtreme category at the
Jaisalmer, August 19, 2018: Two grueling days of high endurance rallying and over 650 km on some
of the country’s harshest terrains – the heroes of India Baja 2018 braced it all with all but one aim,
the coveted title of India’s toughest rally-raid. After an all-out assault in the dunes of Jaisalmer,
Spain’s Lorenzo Santolino of TVS Racing won the Moto Category at India Baja 2018 with the
cumulative timings of 3 hours 38 minutes 46 seconds. In the Xtreme category, Arindam Saikia (Co-
driver Jeevarathinam J) survived all odds to win with cumulative timings of 5 hours 8 minutes 48
Santolino was followed by India’s CS Santosh of Hero MotoSports Team Rally with cumulative
timings of 4 hours 3 minutes 18 seconds. Santosh, who was breathing fire down the neck of
Santolino till the very end, lost the Moto Category title due to a 30-minute penalty in the Special
Stage (SS) 5, the last stage of the competition. TVS Racing’s Abdul Wahid Tanveer, who won the
ticket to Dakar Rally 2019 at previous edition of India Baja, was at the third position on the podium
of Moto Category this year with cumulative timings of 4 hours 18 minutes 10 seconds.
In the Xtreme Category, Arindam was tailed by Team Harjee Motorsport’s Himanshu Arora (Co-
driver Kunal Kashyap) with cumulative timings of 5 hours and 38 minutes, and Team Desert Raiders’
Narayan Balan (Co-driver Chirag Thakur) with cumulative timings of 5 hours 39 minutes and 8
seconds at the second and third positions respectively.
Lorenzo Santolino commented after winning the Moto Category at India Baja 2018, “This victory is
really a very happy moment for me given that I was pretty close to winning the Desert Storm Rally
earlier this year in the same terrains, but could not. I would like to thank my whole team and my
supporters for making it possible. I think India Baja is a great event. This organization is doing a
brilliant job. The stages were sandy yet fast. I would like to thank the organizers for putting
exceptional passion in the event; I really enjoyed it.”
When asked about his take on motorsport in India, particularly the 2W Motorsport scenario,
Santolino remarked, “I believe Indian motorsport is growing in the right direction. The navigational
systems that India Baja mandated this year are at par with what we use in the World Rally Cross
Country Championship. Introduction of the road books, no gpx tracks, and very few way points are
some really exciting developments at this event. I am highly hopeful that step-by-step India
motorsport will soon arrive at the level of international motorsport scenario.” Representing TVS
Racing, Santolino was riding a TVS RTR 450 at the competition.
Arindam Saikia, who was an underdog before the start of the competition, surprised everyone as he
stormed his way towards the pinnacle of the India Baja 2018’s Xtreme Category podium. He said,

“I’m feeling at the top of the world right now. It was a very hard fought victory. The tracks were
awesome; the stages were good, and the entire event was very competitive. I knew that this event
was going to be completely about navigation through the desert. Before this event, we used to get
gpx tracks. But at this particular edition of India Baja, we had to navigate manually through roadbook
with very less way points. So, we had worked hard on our navigational skills and that really worked
in our favour.” An independent entry riding a Polaris XP 1000, Arindam was navigated by co-driver
Jeevarathinam J.
Lorenzo Santolino and Arindam Saikia, alongside other podium finishers, category winners and
special award winners, were awarded at a grand prize distribution ceremony held at Hotel Jaisalkot,
Jaisalmer, in the presence of Mr. Anop Abraham from Isuzu Motors, Mr. Manav Kapoor from
Steelbird Tyres, Dr. Harshil Mehta from Shalby hospitals, and Mr. Reza Kazerooni from Monster
In the Special Awards Category, the Team Trophy at India Baja 2018 went to Team Desert Raiders in
the Xtreme Category and to Team TVS Racing in the Moto Category. Apart from that, the Tuner
Trophy went to Polaris India in the Xtreme Category and to TVS Racing in the Moto Category.
As per Mr. Jayesh Desai (Co-Founder and President, Northern Motorsport), "The intensity of
competition this year was astoundingly high; surpassing even our own expectations. With the
heightened levels of competition because of the navigational toughness and the lengths of the
stages, we had imagined it to be highly challenging. It gives me great pleasure to see that our
participants managed to overcome those challenges as well; with most of them delivering improved
performances. To those who won and to those who didn’t – I would like to congratulate all the
contenders at India Baja 2018 for surviving this challenge.” He added, “I’m thankful to the people of
this state and Rajasthan Tourism for amazing hospitality once again.”
India Baja 2018 is the Indian edition of internationally coveted ‘Road to Dakar’ Challenge. The top
eligible rider of the competition will be given a direct gratis entry to the Dakar Rally of 2020 and to
the Afriquia Merzouga Rally of 2019. The monetary advantages to the winner will amount to a
whopping €20,000, covering the cost of his entry at both the competitions.