At the penultimate stage of the Dakar Rally 2019, both Hero Motosport riders displayed great skills and pace to finish in strong positions. Stage 9 witnessed a mass start in waves of 10 riders each. It included 313 kilometres in the special stage, presenting the competitors with a 50-50 mix of the dunes and soft gravel laden terrain – a recipe for yet another fast stage. With just one more day to go for the completion of the 41st edition of the Dakar Rally, Hero MotoSports Team Rally is well poised to finish their third Dakar in a commendable position.
Both Oriol Mena and Joaquim Rodrigues finished the penultimate stage of the Rally without any incidents. Mena was in good form again and finished stage 9 on the 11th position. This allows him to move a notch above to 9th position in the overall rankings. Joaquim Rodrigues fought off the severe back pain from the previous stage and a crash in the current stage to finish 19th. He is now placed at the 17th position in the overall rankings. The last stage will be the final test for all the competitors with a loop of Pisco in a 112 kilometres special stage, before moving to Lima for the celebrations.
On his performance, Oriol Mena (Comp No: 7) said, “I am happy with my stage today. It was a mass start and there were all kinds of things happening around me, like guys going in wrong directions, losing waypoints, engines breaking and so on. So I decided to shut myself off and do my own race with my own rhythm and flow. One more day in the book, and only one day to Lima.”
Fighting physical pain, Joaquim Rodrigues (Comp No: 27) had a difficult day on the bike. Describing his performance during the stage, he said, ” Hard day today, I had a crash and damaged my bike a little bit. My back is still sore from yesterday so I decided to just take it easy and focus on reaching the finish line safely. So despite the difficulties, we are across the finish line today with only one more day to go.”