The Oilybia Rally Morocco 2016 is underway. The final round of the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship has begun this afternoon in Agadir with a seven kilometre prologue. The Hero MotoSports Team Rally with its riders CS Santosh and Joaquim Rodrigues got off to a solid start. Portuguese Rodrigues finished the super special stage in 12th place, India´s Santosh classified 26th.
The short opening sprint mainly determined the starting order for tomorrow´s first desert stage. For the riders though it´s always important to shake off the nerves and get into the competition. « I started a little nervous, » Rodrigues said. « I caught one guy in front of me going down the hill. I couldn´t pass him because of the dust so I lost a lot of time. After I had passed him the rest was good. Overall I´m pretty happy to be in the Top 15. That´s a good position to be in for tomorrow. »
« Today´s prologue was important, » adds Santosh. « I knew I had to get through it without any problems. That´s what I tried to do. I made a small mistake a few hundred metres into the stage. I recovered after that and caught another rider. Today was just a five-minute dash and I can´t really complain. We´ll see where we can progress when the rally really starts. »
« Both our riders have enjoyed a proper start, » commented Team Manager Wolfgang Fischer. « There was some dust, other than that our riders had no problems. It´s good to see ´J-Rod´ in the Top 15 and also CS is in a decent position. Everyone here at Hero MotoSports Team Rally is looking forward to the first desert stage. »
The proceedings have been closely followed by Hero MotorCorp´s Chief Technology Officer Dr. Markus Braunsperger. « It´s great to be here for me. It´s my first time with the team in action, » he said. « It´s good to see how well they are prepared. Things are running smoothly and there´s a great team spirit. It´s important that both our riders finish the race. Obviously the bike suits them well. I´m keeping my fingers crossed over the next five days. »
On Monday the participants face the first real test of the event, having to complete a 120 kilometres long special test during the opening stage called « Loop of Agadir ». The course mostly leads along the coast line.
Super Special: 1. Toby Price, AUS, KTM 4:56 min ; 2. Pablo Quintanilla, CHI, Husqvarna +0:08 3. Sam Sunderland, GBR, KTM +0:10 4. Paulo Goncalves, POR, Honda +0:10 5. Xavier des Soultrait, FRA, Yamaha +0:12 12. Joaquim Rodrigues, POR, Hero MotoSports Team Rally +0:19 26. CS Santosh, IND, Hero MotoSports Team Rally +0:54…