The OiLibya Rally Morocco 2017 is in the books. After five stages and an eventful race, Hero MotoSports Team Rally riders Joaquim Rodrigues and CS Santosh crossed the finish line in Erfoud with an encouraging result. Rodrigues ends the rally in seventh place overall, and CS Santosh at fifteen, bettering his last year´s result.
Today´s closing stage of the rally went rather smooth compared to the previous stages, where flooded riverbeds and bad weather caused several changes to the programme.
Eventually, the final 180-km loop in the area of Erfoud consolidated the top ten result for Rodrigues as well as Santosh´s best-ever finish in the Moroccan race.
Joaquim Rodrigues: « We finished the last stage of the rally today. In the begining, the stage was going good where I was riding at a decent pace. Then when we started crossing the dunes, where I jumped over one of them and landed in the flat. I bruised my chest and my chin, and had to take five stitches for the same. Overall though the rally was really good for me. I´m improving and the bike is also much better. Things are looking good for the Dakar and we´re ready. »
CS Santosh: « Going into this rally we knew it was going to be an important test with the new bike. I was really excited to see the evolution of our rally machine. We got here, did some testing and it was really promising, I absolutely loved it straight away. Going into the Morocco Rally, we knew it is usually fast, offering lots of rocks and dangerous sections to watch out for. The overall goal for the event, was to complete the five days and to ride as many kilometres as possible. From day one I made good progress and built up every day. I definitely didn´t repeat the mistakes I made last year. Back then I struggled a lot but, this year I have a better feeling with the new bike and everything is working really well. I pay a lot of attention to navigation and for sure my speed has improved. Happy to go to the Dakar with a feeling like this. »
Team manager Wolfgang Fischer: « After several months of intensive preparation with the new evolution of our rally bike, we are more than happy and couldn´t ask for more, than finishing with both bikes without any technical problems. This final round of the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship brings us the first top ten result for Joaquim Rodrigues in a world championship event. Overall we draw a very positive summary of the whole years of work and preparation. That´s with regards to the improvement of the riders and the bike. We´re looking forward to the next big target, the Rally Dakar. A huge thanks to everyone on the team and everyone involved for the hard and dedicated work. Additional thanks go to our loyal and long-term sponsors and technical partners. We send greetings to Hero MotoCorp in India. »
Provision Overall Standings after Stage 5
1. Matthias Walkner, AUT, KTM 10:03:49 hrs
2. Kevin Benavides, ARG, Honda +13:42 min
3. Ricky Brabec, USA, Honda +16:58
4. Antoine Meo, FRA, KTM +18:27
5. Juan Pedrero, SPA, Sherco TVS +22:28
6. Pablo Quintanilla, CHI, Husqvarna +37:22
7. Joaquim Rodrigues, POR, Hero +44:29
15. CS Santosh, IND, Hero +1:49:37