Hero Motosports brings home a tough stage 2 at Rallye du Maroc

– Ross Branch and Franco Caimi maintain top-10 positions

Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motorsport team of the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters – Hero MotoCorp, had a steady run in the second stage of the Rallye Du Maroc on Monday, October 3rd.

Team rider Franco Caimi who started the stage at the 9th position rode steadily to make it to the finish line in the top-10 yet again. Franco finished the day in the 8th position, followed by Ross Branch in 12th, and Sebastian Buhler in the 14th place in the Rally GP class rankings. Joaquim Rodrigues suffered from a crash and could not complete the stage.

The second stage of Rallye Du Maroc started from the coastal town of Tan-Tan and took the competitors further down south of the country to Laâyoune, covering a total of 435 kms. The 316 km special section had a much varied terrain as compared to the earlier stages, featuring a lot more sand and dunes. Navigation skills were crucial as well, as the riders met with several parallel tracks and multiple dune stretches.

Having won the first stage, Ross Branch was handed the mantle to open this tricky stage 2. A confident Ross found himself leading with a good pace for over 150 kms, and even finished the stage without making any navigational mistakes. His great run today places him at the overall 6th position in the Rally GP class.

Franco who has been consistent in his performance so far in the rally, has another steady run that puts him in the top-10 overall Rally GP class ranking, at the 10th place. Sebastian Buhler has been constantly striving since Day 1 to improve his rhythm, and he rode well today to claim his 13th position in the overall rankings table.

Joaquim ‘JRod’ Rodrigues started the stage well at the 16th position, pushing back stronger from his set back in the previous stage. By the 46km waypoint, JRod was leading; however, he suffered an unfortunate crash, and found it difficult to continue racing in the stage. To avoid aggravating his injuries from the previous crash, the 2022 Dakar stage winner decided to exit from the race and head back to the bivouac. He hopes to rest, recover and be back for the next race due in another 2 weeks.

In Laâyoune, the competitors have reached the new bivouac set up in a majestic site which overlooks a wadi, and will here for the next two days. Stage 3 will take the riders on a 342km ride further south into the Moroccan plains, and promises a lot more dunes to jump over.

Franco Caimi: « Every day that we reach the bivouac safe and sound – it’s a good day! Stage 2 today was quite a tricky one – I made some minor navigation mistakes towards the end, went off-piste for a while, and ended up losing some time. Anyway I am happy with my overall performance, and I take back all the learnings from the stage to keep improving, and pushing harder tomorrow. »

Ross Branch: « Today was difficult, but not so much a bad day for me. I knew it was going to be tough opening this long stage, and I just had to manage my time well right from the beginning. The first kilometer was full of big rocks, and that got me worried about the rest of the stage. But luckly, it slowly opened up and we even had some soft dunes towards the end. I was doing well at the start, and got caught up by the riders behind me only around 150kms. They then picked up pace, and we rode together for a long time. I’m happy to be back in one piece, and without making any navigational mistakes – which was my goal for today. Looking forward to tomorrow! »

Sebastian Buhler: « I felt like I had a better day today, having gained my momentum back and a good rhythm with my bike. Towards the end of the stage I faced a slight problem finding a particular waypoint, and lost some time at that. However, I am happy with my performance, and excited to catch a good pace with my Hero again. »

Joaquim Rodrigues: « I had bruised my hands yesterday, and I didn’t know how today would turn out; but I still gave it my best shot. I did quite well in the first part of the stage, and was in the leading positions. However, after a little crash – even though it wasn’t major – I felt I couldn’t grab the bike back up, and decided to stop before I hurt my hands any further. It’s unfortunate, but I’m hoping to recover well before the next race. »

Provisional Rankings – Stage 2 (Rally GP Class)
1. Adrien Van Beveren, Moster Energy Honda Racing, 03h 18m 44s
2. Kevin Benavides, Red Bull KTM Factory Team, + 2m 54s…
8. Franco Caimi, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 8m 56s…
12. Ross Branch, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 12m 09s…
14. Sebastian Buhler, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 13m 47s…
17. Joaquim Rodrigues, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, DNF

Provisional Overall Standings after Stage 2 (Rally GP Class)
1. Skyler Howes, Husqvarna Factory Racing, 08h 12m 44s
2. Toby Price, Red Bull KTM Factory Team, + 1m 40s
3. Luciano Benavides, Husqvarna Factory Racing, + 3m 42s…
6. Ross Branch, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 4m 33s…
10. Franco Caimi, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 14m 12s…
13. Sebastian Buhler, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 30m 28s…