Indian motorcycle racer CS Santosh has a suspected head injury after he suffered a crash on Wednesday in Stage 4 of the 2021 Dakar Rally underway in Saudi Arabia. It is understood that the 37-year-old was conscious when paramedics arrived on the scene and was airlifted to a hospital in Riyadh.
"We are pleased to share that he has no major physical injuries except for the dislocated shoulder and head trauma. The latest scans have also shown no major issue that could impact his full recovery," Hero MotoSports said in a statement.
"The medical team attending to him has decided that the best approach to manage the injury is to reduce the body functions to a minimum and keep him in a sedated condition or artificial coma. He is receiving the best possible medical care and will continue to be under constant observation for the next few days," the statement added.
Santosh crashed around 135km into the stage on a gravel track and had to forfeit the stage. According to reports, he was attended to by the on-ground medical team before being flown to Saudi German hospital in Riyadh.
A HeroSports official also told ESPN that for now, the team is continuing with the race in Stage 5. Santosh's teammate Joaquim Rodrigues completed Stage 4 in sixth place overall, the first top-10 finish for HeroSports at the Dakar Rally this year.
In an unfortunate incident, @cs_santosh22 suffered a crash in Stage 4 of #Dakar2021 today. He has been taken to a hospital in Riyadh. In the initial assessment, he seems stable.
Join us in wishing him a speedy recovery. pic.twitter.com/ePbtRIsBcT
- Hero MotoSports (@hero_motosports) January 6, 2021
The January 2-16 rally divided into 12 stages has competitors traversing 7646km. Stage 4 is, incidentally, the longest stage of the rally, spanning a total of 813km.
Last year, HeroSports withdrew from the rally after the death of rally veteran team member Paulo Goncalves. The Portuguese rider, 40, had crashed halfway through the seventh stage and suffered a cardiac arrest.
This was Santosh's seventh attempt at the Dakar Rally, considered the world's most grueling off-road motorsport event. He was the first Indian to complete the race in 2015, and replicated the effort in two further editions. Santosh had a near-fatal accident during the 2013 Abu Dhabi desert challenge. He suffered third-degree burns to his neck after his Suzuki MX450X caught fire.