Extreme heat, navigational challenges and ‘trial’-type sections through rocky river beds—that’s how the 10th stage was described in the evening briefing a day before. The 10th stage of the 2017 Dakar Rally, which took the participants one step closer to the finish in Buenos Aires, certainly lived up to every word of the sporting director, Marc Coma. With no clear tracks for almost 140 km through the river beds, complicated by multiple entries and exits, the 10th stage turned out to be the hardest stage of the rally so far.
Despite the stern and hot test thrown at the riders as they neared the home run of this edition of the Dakar, Hero Motosports Team Rally riders, Joaquim Rodrigues and C.S. Santosh, played it cool and sensibly towards realising a dream Dakar debut for the Indian team.
Rodrigues, based on the previous stage’s classification, was the 16th rider to start the timed section where many of the frontrunners lost plenty of time trying to find the correct track and the way points. Rodrigues too had to spend more time than he would have liked to find the correct route in some of the most challenging parts of the course.
The presence of tall and thorny vegetation along the course only complicated the task at hand as it impeded the vision of the riders. But in the second part of the special, the Portuguese rider put together stellar race to complete the timed section in 6 hour 40 minutes that put him in 19th place in the provisional stage classification. After 10 stages, Rodrigues is in 14th place and now looking to reach the finishing line at Buenos Aires.
“Today was really an extreme day. The terrain was very tough and very difficult. In the beginning, I had a bit of tough time trying to find a waypoint and lost some time. After that I just kept going, but the conditions were very difficult and hot. There was no place to rest even for a minute. At one point, I had to calm myself down because it was very physical to ride this stage. Today we had rocks, trial and sand. I lost some time, but I managed to make it to the bivouac. Now there is one more big stage to go and go to Buenos Aires,