Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motor-sport division of the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer, Hero MotoCorp Ltd. (HMCL), is geared-up to start its exciting quest to Dakar 2018, with the first DAKAR SERIES race – ‘Afriquia Merzouga Rally’. The rally, open to motorcycles, quads and Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs), will be held from May 7-12 in Morocco.
Close on the heels of back-to-back impressive performances – Dakar in January, podium finish at the Desert Storm in February and victory at the India BAJA in April- the Team is set to take its winning momentum to the Merzouga Rally.
Making its second consecutive appearance at Afriquia Merzouga, Hero MotoSports Team Rally will field a full strength team, with both the riders – Indian ace C.S. Santosh and Portuguese supercross star, Joaquim Rodrigues.
While C.S. Santosh will make a much-awaited comeback to rally racing, after missing the India BAJA, his co-rider Joaquim Rodrigues or ‘JRod’ as he is popularly known, will look to build on his winning momentum from the India BAJA 2017, which took place in Rajasthan in April.
Running under the aegis of the DAKAR SERIES since 2016, the eighth edition of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally involves six days of racing in south-east Morocco, including 1200 kms of fully off-road specials. This year, 145 vehicles ( 88 bikes, 23 quads and 34 SidebySide) for a total of 178 competitors will be at the start of the Rally.
Dr. Markus Braunsperger, Chief Technology Officer, Hero MotoCorp Ltd., said, “Merzouga Rally will offer a good platform to evaluate the physical and technical strengths of the team, so that necessary course corrections can be made, if any, for the Dakar 2018. It has just been a year since the formation of our team and we are excited by the impressive performances so far. We are looking for another 100% finish rate this year.”
Mr. Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, “We are excited to be back in full strength. Santosh has recovered well and it’s good to see him on the bike again; JRod is in good form. All the team members, the bikes, spares and assistance vehicles have arrived in Morocco and the final preparations are underway.”
C S Santosh, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, said, “I have made immense progress in the past couple of months and I am glad to be back here with the team. I have been training with some great people and working on all the aspects, be it body or mind or motorcycles. However, I am going into the Merzouga Rally with the expectation of learning and having a great time being back to racing on my bike.”
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, said, “It has been a great start to the year. The recent victory at the India BAJA Rally has given me a fresh boost of energy and I am really excited to be back at Merzouga Rally. I am happy with my recent performances and hoping for a good result here as well.