The epicentre of the rally activities shifted to Morocco today, for the last 2 rallies of the season – the Pan Africa Rally and Rally Du Maroc, before the focus of the entire rally fraternity moves on to the mighty Dakar 2020.
With all the competitors having completed the technical and administrative scrutiny yesterday, the Pan Africa Rally 2019 got formally kicked off today with the Prologue stage to determine the starting order of the Stage 1 scheduled for tomorrow.
Hero MotoSports Team Rally took the starting line of the prologue today, represented by its 2 riders – Joaquim Rodrigues and C S Santosh. The short 70 kms run in the sand, was brought home in style by JRod with a win, while Santosh turned in a 9th place finish to lock in their starting orders for the first big stage of the rally scheduled for tomorrow.
Joaquim Rodrigues and C S Santosh will be looking to get some more saddle time and valuable sand riding experience under their belt in this rally before Hero MotoSports Team Rally takes on the Rally Du Maroc with a full strength, 4 rider team next month. While Pan Africa Rally is considered by some as a good preparatory race, the Rally Du Maroc is traditionally considered as an important race for Dakar preparations by all the teams, besides being the final round of the FIM World Rally Championship. Together, these 2 back to back rallies, offering a good mix of terrains, will provide a good simulation of the weather and riding conditions being expected in the first ever Saudi Arabian edition of the Dakar 2020 in January.
The first stage of the rally tomorrow, will take the competitors for a run of 275 kms, offering a mix terrain with sand, lose gravel and hard pack to get warmed up to take on the 5 stages of the rally.
Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager and Head of Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, « Moroccan terrains provide a really good preparation ground for the Dakar rally, and this time even more so, because of the very similar conditions we are expecting at the Dakar 2020 in Saudi Arabia. Pan Africa Rally will definitely add further to our preparations. JRod started with a win and that’s always a good for the confidence of the rider and the team. We are here to perform and prepare well so that’s what our focus is going to be. »
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, « I Started the prologue really well today, got into a good rhythm to win the stage. So I am quite happy for me and the team. The rally has just started and there are 5 long stages to be done so I am going to keep it safe and try to bring the bike home every day. »
C S Santosh, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, « It was a good start for me today at the Prologue. I rode well, navigated well and did not commit any mistakes. It’s always a good feeling to bring the bike home in the first stage as you tend to be nervous. So a good start today and I am looking forward to the first big stage to start from tomorrow. »
Results of the Prologue Stage
1. Joaquim Rodrigues, Hero MotoSports, 58m 38s
2. Lorenzo Santolino, TVS Sherco Factory Team, +01m
3. Adrien Metge, TVS Sherco Factory Team, +01m 30s
4. Maurizio Gerini, Solarys Racing, +01m 38s…
9. C S Santosh, Hero MotoSports, +08m 13s…