One of two Indian factory racing teams, Team Hero Motosport has sent two of its riders for the challenging Merzouga Rally, following the success of the last Dakar Rally. Marking the start of the new season, the Merzouga Rally will see riders Oriol Mena (Competitor No. 4) and Joaquim Rodrigues (Competitor No. 6) participate in the first international rally of the year. Hero Motosports’ third rider, CS Santosh has been rested to allow him more time to return to full fitness, following his unfortunate crash at the Dakar earlier this year. Post the scrutiny and the administrative checks, the competitors were given a free practice run of 38 km to get the flavour of the terrain, environment and their equipment. A short 2 km prologue followed the free practice to establish the starting order for Stage 1. JRod and Oriol finished the prologue stage, ridden in the small dunes in the Erfoud region, at the 5th and 8th positions respectively.
Offering an ideal training ground for the teams to kick start the preparations for the mighty Dakar, the Afriquia Merzouga Rally is a challenging battle. The 2019 edition of the Merzouga Rally is touted to be much more than previous years as it is expected to be more technical and tougher, exploring the famous dunes of Merzouga, Erg Chebbi and the Moroccan off-road country. The rally will cover 1200kms in total, including 750kms of special stages, in 5 days from 1st April – 5th April, 2019. This is the fourth time the Indian factory team is competing in this rally.
Oriol Mena, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “Looks like it’s going to be a difficult race, especially looking at how bad the weather has been in the past few days we’ve been here. Today we had a short prologue of 1.8 km in softs sands with deep lines. I am happy with how I rode today and looking forward to the full stage tomorrow. It’s just the first day of the race, so we’ll see it through day by day.”
Also Read: Enduro-Spec Hero Xpulse 200 Spotted
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “I’m happy to be riding again. It’s our first race after the Dakar and I am feeling good. I think it’s going to be a really hard rally, especially in navigation, so my aim will be to get across the finish line tomorrow and then we’ll see how it goes from there.”