Hero MotoSports Team kicks off the Merzouga Rally campaign

Joaquim Rodrigues © RallyZone

Hero MotoSports Team Rally kick started their new season with the first international rally of the year, the Merzouga Rally 2019, today with Oriol Mena (Competitor No. 4) and Joaquim Rodrigues (Competitor No. 6) leading the charge for the team. C S Santosh has been rested with an aim to allow him more time to nurse himself back to fitness, after his fateful crash at the Dakar in January.

Post the scrutiny and the administrative checks, the competitors were given a free practice run of 38km to get the flavour of the race, the environment and the equipment. A short 2km prologue followed after the free practice to establish the starting order for the next day i.e. stage 1. Oriol Mena (Rider No. 4) and Joaquim Rodrigues (Rider No. 6) finished the 2 km prologue stage, ridden in the small dunes in the Erfoud region in the 8th and 5th position respectively.
The Afriquia Merzouga Rally offers an ideal training ground for the teams to kick start the preparations for the mighty Dakar. The 2019 edition of the Merzouga Rally is touted to be all this and much more as this edition is expected to be more technical and tougher, exploring the famous dunes of Mezouga, Erg Chebbi and the Moroccan off-road country. The rally will cover 1200kms of rally kms in total, including 750kms of special stages, in 5 days i.e. from 1st April – 5th April.

Traditionally for Hero MotoSports Team Rally, Merzouga Rally have been a happy hunting ground with some strong finishes to the team’s credit in the past editions. In their 4th outing, the team is looking forward to a strong start to their ‘Road to Dakar 2020’.
Oriol Mena, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, « Looks like it’s going to be a difficult race, especially looking at how bad weather has been in the past few days we’ve been here. Today we had a short prologue of 1.8 kms in softs sands with deep lines. I happy with how I rode today and looking forward to the full stage tomorrow. It’s just the first day of a long race, so we’ll see it through day by day. »
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, « I’m happy to be riding again. It’s our first race after the Dakar and I am feeling good. I think it’s going to be really hard rally, especially in the navigation so my aim will be to get across the finish line tomorrow and then we’ll see how it goes from there. »
Results of the Prologue Stage  
1. Michael Metge, Sherco TVS Racing, 02m 26s
2. Stefan Svitko, Slovnaft Rally Team, +04s
3. Jamie McCanney, Dragon Rally Team, +04s
5. Joaquim Rodrigues, Hero MotoSports, +05s
8. Oriol Mena, Hero MotoSports, +09s