Hero MotoSports Team Rally riders Joaquim Rodrigues and CS Santosh have completed the penultimate stage of the OiLybia Rally Morocco in 20th and 22nd spot, respectively. The stage was held around the town of Erfoud and near the border to Algeria. With 319 kilometres racing against the clock, Thursday marked the longest special test of the race.
Rodrigues´ day began very well until he suffered from an unfortunate incident. The Portuguese explanins: « Today´s stage was a little complicated. After 50 km there were a lot of rocks flying around. One rock hit my water hose and the bike started to lose water. As a result the engine delivered less power and I had to nurse the bike over 250 km to the finish with no coolant whatsoever. I wasn´t able to push, it was all about being smart. I´m very happy I managed to hang in there and to arrive here. The team is now preparing the bike for tomorrow, then we´ll go into the final 275 km.
Rodrigues lies 16th in the overall standings
His Indian team-mate CS Santosh had experienced problems of his own the day before. On Wednesday his machine stopped and after basically spending all day in the desert his team was able to bring him and his bike to the bivouac. Santosh was able to start this morning.
« Today was tough, » he said. « Due to yesterday´s result I was way down the starting order and it was obvious that this will make my ride more difficult. Indeed there was a lot of traffic and dust. I still started to pick up competitors alright but 120 kilometres from the finish the first cars came and passed me. Then it becomes really hard, you even have to slow down until the dust settles. »
With the OiLybia being an important preparation ground for the team looking towards the infamous Rally Dakar in January, Santosh reminds that the big picture is according to the plan: « Overall I feel I´m pretty solid looking at my learning curve. I moved up a few positions today and will be able to start earlier. Hopefully that keeps me out of the dust. Tomorrow will be much better and I am looking forward to the final day of the rally. »
The OiLybia Rally Morocco ends on Friday in the dunes of Erg Chebbi.
Provisional Results Stage 4, FIM450 : 1. Matthias Walkner, AUT, KTM 3:38:00 hrs 2. Sam Sunderland, GBR, KTM +0:16 min 3. Helder Rodrigues, POR, Yamaha +4:25 4. Xavier de Soultrait, FRA, Yamaha +6:36 5. Pablo Quintanilla, CHI, Husqvarna +6:46 6. Pierre-Alexandre Renet, FRA, Husqvarna +8:13 20. Joaquim Rodrigues, POR, Hero MotoSports Team Rally +37:34 22. CS Santosh, IND, Hero MotoSports Team Rally +56:29…
Provisional standings after Stage 4, FIM450 : 1. Sunderland 10:35:40 hrs ; 2. Toby Price, AUS, KTM +7:26 ; 3. Quintanilla +15:48 ; 4. Helder Rodrigues +17:17 ; 5. de Soultrait +22:50… 16. Joaquim Rodrigues, POR, Hero MotoSports Team Rally +1:38:22 CS Santosh, IND, Hero MotoSports Team Rally (ranking to be confirmed)…