With all the scrutiny and tech checks related formalities completed, Hero MotoSports Team Rally kick started their campaign at the Atacama Rally today.
This makes up for an interesting rally for the team for two reasons – one, it marks the comeback of Joaquim Rodrigues, popularly known as ‘JRod’, to the rally arena after his unfortunate crash at the Dakar earlier this year and second, this is the first time the team is participating in this rally, which boasts of the participation of almost all the top riders of the Dakar. JRod is joined by the Dakar sensation Oriol Mena to lead the team’s charge at this rally.
The rally started off with a short Prologue of 2 kms to decide on the starting order for the stage 1 scheduled for tomorrow. Both JRod and Oriol took it easy today to close in the prologue in 7th and 5th position respectively. The top 15 riders of the prologue get the opportunity to pick the starting position of their choice for Stage 1 tomorrow.
Spanning 1200 kms over 4 days and 5 loops, the actual rally will start on 14th Aug with the stage 1 going underway. Being conducted in the Atacama region, also known as the driest desert in the world, the rally will challenge the riders with a unique and thrilling mix of mountain, valley and coastal terrains. Demanding extreme-navigation routes and incredible landscapes are expected to push the adrenaline and emotions to the max in the breath taking Atacama Desert.
Hero MotoSports Team Rally will use this rally to get some more experience under their belt for both their international riders, especially for Joaquim Rodrigues who will be looking to find his rhythm back on the saddle, with just about 4 months left to the Dakar 2019.
Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager: « Today’s prologue was a short warm up for the riders before the actual rally starts from tomorrow. We are happy to have Joaquim back on the saddle and with the team again. For him, the main focus is to get his feel and rhythm back, working at it with each rally slowly and gradually, now starting from Atacama Rally. Oriol is in good frame of mind and this rally will give more experience and kms under his belt. Overall a positive start for the team and we are looking forward to a good rally. »
Joaquim Rodrigues (Comp #16): « Happy to be back racing again. It was hard after being away for so long but I am calm and taking it slow and easy. I am really happy with the prologue and we got a pretty good time so we will see how it goes from here. »
Oriol Mena (Comp #14): « It was a really good prologue for me as I managed to finish in top 5.I felt good and safe on the bike. It was really short and fast prologue today but from tomorrow the actual rally will start. I am here to learn and take more experience and at the same time enjoy the rally. »