Hero Wins Its First International Rally

Star rider Joaquim Rodrigues wins his first international rally while C S Santosh bags a top-five finish

It has been a long time coming as Hero MotoSports Rally Team finally won its first rally raid on the international stage thanks to Portuguese rider Joaquim ‘JRod’ Rodrigues. There was more delight for the team as C S Santosh rode a gritty stint on his 450 RR rally bike to finish fifth. This is his best result ever on the global stage, making him the first Indian to finish in the top 5 in an international rally.

This isn’t Hero or JRod’s first FIM win. They previously emerged victorious at the India Baja 2017. Even though it was given the ‘Road To Dakar’ status, the rally was contested mainly by Indian athletes. The PanAfrica rally win asserts Hero’s focus on making its off-road team one of the most successful outfits on the global stage.

It seems that Santosh has fully recovered from his horrific accident at the 2019 Dakar rally. The Indian rider was forced to sit out of some major national as well as international events such as the Silkway Rally and the Desert Storm due to the injury. The result is sure to boost his confidence as he heads into the final two rallies of the season -- the Rallye du Marroc in October and the Dakar 2020 early next year.

Moving on to the other Indian outfit at the rally, Sherco-TVS Racing that did not have things going according to plan. Initially, the Indo-French team was going to field six riders for the rally. However, injuries in practice to both Aravind K P and Harith Noah forced them to drop out of the event. The team started strongly as 2018 winner Michael Metge was leading until the third day of the rally where he was forced to retire due to a technical issue with his RTR 450 Rally. On the same day, teammate Lorenzo Santolino too had to bring an early end to his rally as his bike faltered to finish the day’s proceedings.

Adrien Metge was emerging to be JRod’s biggest competitor over the course of the event. Unfortunately, he received some serious time penalties of over 6 hours, which dropped him out of victory contention altogether. The only consolation for TVS Racing was Johnny Aubert ending the rally in sixth position.

Both teams will now look to go gung-ho in the final rally of the year at the Rallye du Marroc, which is scheduled for October 3-9. The rally acts as a precursor to the Dakar, allowing teams to get the settings spot on for the big challenge. Hero and TVS Racing will be joined by factory KTM team and Team HRC at Morocco in October.

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