The longest and arguably the most crucial stage in determining the final standings in the rally, went down today with 445 kms of competitive riding done in the mixed terrains of the Merzouga region.
Both the riders from Hero MotoSports Team Rally were in store for a challenging and tough day as the heat and long distance took its toll on the competitors.
Joaquim Rodrigues opened the stage and pushed hard from the go, to keep his lead as long as possible. He did really well to hold off the competitors until the half way mark, with the only opportunity to pass him going to the rider directly behind him. Both JRod and Santosh did very well to fight off a very hard and physically demanding Dakar-style stage with excellent results for the team. JRod put all his experience and skills to good effect and secured a 3rd place in this crucial Stage of the rally. Today’s hard fought effort, enabled him to remain in the battle for the top position with only 6s separating him from the new rally leader at the end of the stage 3.
C S Santosh also fought and overcame the tough conditions to gain some time over a few riders in the front. He gained a few places today to finish the stage in 7th position, an effort that rewarded him with a break into the Top 5 in the overall standings at 5th place.
The penultimate stage 4 of the Pan Africa Rally will offer one last big test of 280 km for the competitors tomorrow before the short stage 5, finally concludes this edition of the Pan Africa Rally come 27th September.
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, « Another good day today for me. I opened the stage today, pushed hard in the beginning and gained some time. In the second part I got into a wrong river bed, of the several parallel ones that were there, and lost a lot of time in coming back to the right track. I had to again catch the guys in the front, which I managed to do. Overall it was a good day with a 3rd place finish and we are still in the battle for the win. »
C S Santosh, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, « Today was a really long and tough stage. I did a good job in the first two parts of the stage with good navigation and a good flow. I even gained some time, so it was going quite well for me. In the last part the tape of my road book came off and I had to stop a couple of times to fix that and then I had a small crash. It was quite a physical and challenging day with heat and long distance, but I think I tackled it quite well, so I am happy to bring another stage home for the team. »
Provisional Results of the Stage 3
1. Jacopo Cerutti, Solarys Racing Team, 05h 15m 12s
2. Adrien Metge, TVS Sherco Factory Team, +04m 39s
3. Joaquim Rodrigues, Hero MotoSports, +06m 41s
4. Sebastian Buhler, Team Buhler, +21m 00s
7. C S Santosh, Hero MotoSports, +43m 35s
Provisional Overall Results at the end of Stage 3
1. Adrien Metge, TVS Sherco Factory Team, 11h 19m 33s
2. Joaquim Rodrigues, Hero MotoSports, +06s
3. Jacopo Cerutti, Solarys Racing Team, +19m 25s
4. Sebastian Buhler, Team Buhler, +32m 27s
5. C S Santosh, Hero MotoSports, +01h 09m 42s…