The most gruelling race on the
planet, the Dakar Rally, flagged off its 40th edition in Lima, the capital city
of Peru on January 6, 2018. This edition of Dakar Rally marks the 2nd year of
participation for India’s Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the rally racing division
of the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer, Hero MotoCorp. The Team had an
impressive Dakar debut in 2017 with a 12th place finish of the Team’s ace
Portuguese rider, Joaquim Rodrigues.
In Stage 1 of the rally, the three riders of
Hero MotoSports Team Rally rolled off the ceremonial podium, in front of
thousands of enthusiastic fans who assembled in downtown Lima to give a warm
send off to the participants.
After a long liaison of 242 kms, the short 1st
special stage of 31 kms was kicked off from Lima to Pisco. Indian ace rider CS
Santosh made a very good start on his 4th Dakar outing and closed the day with
his best ever Dakar stage finish at 13th position.
Oriol Mena made a cautious start to his Dakar
dreams and finished at a stable 22nd position. An unfortunate crash at the
half-way mark of the stage brought an abrupt end Joaquim Rodrigues’
participation in this year’s Rally. He was rushed to the hospital where initial
scans showed no signs of any major injuries. He is now recuperating.
Dr. Markus Braunsperger, Chief
Technology Officer, Hero MotoCorp and Head of Hero MotoSports: "It was
exciting to see the riders start at the podium today. JRod’s crash was very
unfortunate, but we are all happy that he is doing ok. We wish him a fast recovery
and we hope that our remaining two Heroes will reach the finish line at Cordoba
C.S Santosh (Comp No: 49): “What a day to
kick-off the Dakar 2018. It was an anxious start for me being in the Peruvian
desert as the short stages are always tricky. There were many way point
controls but I am really happy to come back safely and achieve my best ever
stage finish at Dakar. Now we work towards the next stages and take a moment to
wish for a speedy recovery for our mate JRod.”
Oriol Mena (Comp No: 61):
“Joaquim’s crash was very unfortunate. The stage was completely in the dunes
and the visibility was really bad due to high sun. It was difficult to judge
better routes across the dunes as it was impossible to see the last part of the
dunes. I wish for him to get well soon. For me, today was my maiden stage of
the Dakar and I realise that it’s going to be a long and tough race. I opened
the stage today and maintained my position throughout so I am happy with that.
My aim is to finish every day and now I have one less day to finish.”
Wolfgang Fischer, Team
Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally: “We are all very sad with what transpired
with JRod today. But no one can predict what happens at the Dakar. He is
currently in hospital and being given the best possible medical attention right
now. We are relieved that he is ok and on the road to recovery. The other two
riders finished the day safely to remain in the competition. Our focus is now
to get the best results for the team with the two remaining Heroes.”
Provisional Stage 1 General and Overall Classifications
1. Sam Sunderland, RedBull KTM
Factory Team, KTM, 00:20:56
2. Adrian Van Beveren, YAMAHA
OFFICIAL RALLY TEAM, Yamaha, +32s
3. Pablo Qunitanilla,
Husqvarna Factory Racing, Husqvarna, +55s
13. C.S. Santosh, Hero
Motosports Team Rally, Hero MotoSports, +03m16s
22. Oriol Mena, Hero
Motosports Team Rally, Hero MotoSports, +04m14s
DNF Joaquim Rodrigues, Hero
Motosports Team Rally, Hero MotoSports, Withdrawn due to injury
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