Tuesday in Morocco and the second stage of the OiLybia Rally. It was an exhausting day for the riders that started with a very long liason section across the Atlas Mountains before the racing part finally went underway right before noon. The day´s stage called ‘From Ocean to Dunes’ offered what the name promised. The field of motorbikes (and cars) has moved deeper into the Moroccon desert and the difficulties have increased.
The stage had many things that make rally racing at this top level so demanding and exciting: stones, sand and a complicated navigation.
Hero MotoSports Team Rally riders Joaquim Rodrigues and CS Santosh have gained good momentum and made progress on their individual positions. Both excelled in this first half of the rally´s crucial marathon stage. Portuguese Rodrigues arrived at the finish in 14th place, his Indian team-mate in 24th.
« Overall it was very tough, » said Santosh. « It was hot and I once got lost coming out of the dunes. Looks like I missed one waypoint. That was pretty much a typical Dakar stage with plenty of challenges. »
« I was attacking hard at the beginning, » Rodrigues said. « But due to a military control that we couldn´t pass the first part got cancelled. Unfortunately I had spent a lot of energy until then, my speed was really good.
I overtook some riders in the dunes. At the exit I lost some of that time. Overall everything is in order, the bike is working great. »
Team principal Wolfgang Fischer commented: « Joaquim and CS have completed a hard day´s work. It was a tough test for both the athletes and our machines. We are satisfied with the outcome. ´J-Rod´ has placed himself once again in the Top 15 and keeps making good progress as a rally rookie. CS Santosh gains experience by the hour. Both have moved up in the overall ranks. Now the riders are looking over their bikes. They are well prepared to get along fine in their marathon bivouac without the team staff doing the maintenance work. »
Wednesday sees part two of the marathon stage and the second longest special of the event (315 km).
Provisional Results Stage 2 : 1. Paulo Goncalves, POR, Honda 2:01:11 hrs 2. Ricky Brabec, USA, Honda +2:25 min 3. Sam Sunderland, GBR, KTM +3:50 4. Toby Price, AUS, KTM +4:03 5. Helder Rodrigues, POR, Yamaha +5:25 14. Joaquim Rodrigues, POR, Hero MotoSports Team Rally +19:32 24. CS Santosh, IND, Hero MotoSports Team Rally +31:02
Provisional standings after Stage 2: 1. Goncalves, 3:40:45 hrs ; 2. Price, +0:45 min ; 3. Brabec, +2:00 ; 4. Sunderland, +2:06 ; 5. Kevin Benavides, ARG, Honda, +4:05… 14. Joaquim Rodrigues, POR, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +31:56…26. CS Santosh, IND, Hero MotoSports Team Rally +50:05…