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Thread: Hero MotoSports geared up to Dakar 2018 with Afriquia Merzouga Rally

  1. #1
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    Default Hero MotoSports geared up to Dakar 2018 with Afriquia Merzouga Rally

    Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motorsport division of Hero MotoCorp Ltd. is geared up to start its exciting quest to Dakar 2018, with the first DAKAR SERIES race Afriquia Merzouga Rally. The rally, open to motorcycles, quads, and Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs), will be held from May 7-12 in Morocco.

    Close on the heels of back-to-back impressive performances - Dakar in January, a podium finish at the Desert Storm in February and victory at the India BAJA in April - the team is set to take its winning momentum to the Merzouga Rally.

    Making its second consecutive appearance at Afriquia Merzouga, Hero MotoSports Team Rally will field a full strength team, with both the riders -Indian ace C.S. Santosh and Portuguese supercross star, Joaquim Rodrigues.

    While C.S. Santosh will make a much-awaited comeback to rally racing, after missing the India BAJA, his co-rider Joaquim Rodrigues or JRod as he is popularly known, will look to build on his winning momentum from the India BAJA 2017, which took place in Rajasthan in April.

    Running under the aegis of the DAKAR SERIES since 2016, the eighth edition of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally involves six days of racing in southeast Morocco, including 1200 kms of fully off-road specials. This year, 145 vehicles ( 88 bikes, 23 quads, and 34 SidebySide) for a total of 178 competitors will be at the start of the Rally.

    Dr. Markus Braunsperger, Chief Technology Officer, Hero MotoCorp Ltd., said, Merzouga Rally will offer a good platform to evaluate the physical and technical strengths of the team, so that necessary course corrections can be made, if any, for the Dakar 2018.It has just been a year since the formation of our team and we are excited by the impressive performances so far. We are looking for another 100% finish rate this year.

    Mr. Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally,We are excited to be back at full strength. Santosh has recovered well and its good to see him on the bike again; JRodis in good form. All the team members, the bikes, spares, and assistance vehicles have arrived in Morocco and the final preparations are underway.

    C S Santosh, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, said, I have made immense progress in the past couple of months and I am glad to be back here with the team. I have been training with some great people and working on all the aspects, be it body or mind or motorcycles.However, I am going to the Merzouga Rally with the expectation of learning and having a great time being back to racing on my bike.

    Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, said, It has been a great start to the year. The recent victory at the India BAJA Rally has given me a fresh boost of energy and I am really excited to be back at Merzouga Rally. I am happy with my recent performances and hoping for a good result here as well.

    Hero MotoCorp
    Shivanshu likes this.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Hero MotoSports geared up to Dakar 2018 with Afriquia Merzouga Rally

    CS Santosh in 20th after Stage 1 at Afriquia Merzouga Rally on the Hero MotoSports Team Rally bike, while teammate JRod is in a strong 5th position.

    Afriquia Merzouga Rally 2017, Stage 1

    Joaquim Rodrigues wins the Prologue Stage

    The Afriquia Merzouga Rally is an ideal rally to kick start the preparation for the Dakar Rally. The teams and riders participating consider Merzouga Rally as an ideal training ground to familiarise themselves with the roadbook, the navigation and the machine. The 2017 edition of the Merzouga Rally proves to be all this and much more as this edition is expected to be much more technical and tougher. For Hero MotoSports Team Rally, participating in their 2nd Merzouga Rally, Day 1 opened up to an exciting start with JRod winning the Prologue and securing the 1st position in the start order for the Stage 1, while ace Indian rider, CS Santosh secured the 17th position.

    The Stage 1 comprised of a short 84 km stage with 41 km of special stage in addition to the 2 km Prologue and 41 km Liason section. Short but not easy, thats what the riders had to acknowledge on the first real day of racing in the Moroccon desert. As temperatures soared, the route through the loop of Erfoud provided plenty of tricky navigation and sandy challenges. Both the riders from Hero MotoSports Team Rally, Joaquim Rodrigues and CS Santosh finished the stage 1 with strong performances.

    Joaquim Rodrigues delivered a steady stage, finishing the day in 5th position. The Portuguese stayed focussed and out of trouble to end the day 1 with a strong performance by completing the stage 1 in 31 min and 45 sec.

    CS Santosh, making a comeback to rally racing after a 2 months hiatus owing to an injury, had a cautious yet steady start, finishing the stage in 16th position taking 35 min 26 sec. Warming himself up to racing again, he kept his calm and remained focused throughout the stage.

    Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, "Today we had a really good start to the rally. We won the prologue, which was my first stage win at the Merzouga Rally, so it was a really good feeling. In the first special stage, I started first and opened the tracks and lost some time to the guys coming behind of course. In the end, we got to a good position for the next stage. Tomorrow we go to the desert and the dunes, so I hope I can keep up the way things are going now and reach to the last day in a good position."

    C S Santosh, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, Its been exactly one year with Hero MotoSports Team Rally since my first race at Merzouga and here we are again. But things are a lot different now because I have had 1 year of experience with a lot of international rallies. We had a good day today with 2 stages prologue and the first special of 41 km. I had a small tip over in the prologue and finished 17th. Started the first stage then and looking at a top 20 finish, which is a good start. I feel it is going to be a tough rally but the feeling is really good with the bike and I am also better prepared than last year. I am really looking forward to see how the next five days are going to play out.

    Stage two will see the riders getting tested in the first full day of the rally with 188 kms of special stage and 53 km of liason. The Erg Chebbi region of Merzouga is expected to pose tough challenge to the competitors with sand dunes to river beds to master amidst difficult navigation.

    Provisional Results Stage 1
    1. De Soultrait Xavier Yamaha 27:36 min
    2. Caimi Franco Yamaha +02:00 min
    3. Botturi Alessandro Yamaha +03:16 min
    5. Joaquim Rodrigues Hero MotoSports Team Rally +4:09 min
    20. C S Santosh Hero MotoSports Team Rally +07:50 min

    Preliminary Overall standings
    1. De Soultrait Xavier Yamaha 27:36 min
    2. Caimi Franco Yamaha +02:00 min
    3. Botturi Alessandro Yamaha +03:16 min
    5. Joaquim Rodrigues Hero MotoSports Team Rally +4:09 min
    20. C S Santosh Hero MotoSports Team Rally +07:50 min

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