Hero MotoSports' CS Santosh finished the first stage in 20th position, while teammate Oriol Mena was 14th. Sherco TVS' Michael Metge took the 12th spot on day 1, while Aravind KP had a slow start and finished the stage in 70th position.
The 2019 Dakar Rally has kicked off in Peru. The first stage of what’s touted to be the world’s toughest rally got underway with the Indian contingent – Hero MotoSports and Sherco-TVS – making steady progress on day 1.
The first stage included 247km of racing and a short special stage of 84km, which started in reverse order from Lima to Pisco. Both Hero MotoSports and Sherco TVS got off to an impressive start and are running in the top-20 after the completion of stage 1. Hero’s CS Santosh, who's taking part in his fifth Dakar rally this year, managed to finish the first-day in 20th position. His teammate Oriol Mena was placed 14th by the end of the day. The team’s third rider, Joaquim Rodrigues, focussed on finishing the stage in a rather steady manner to avoid any injuries like last year and finished 23rd overall on the first day.
Commenting on his performance of day 1, CS Santosh said, “First day out of the books. I had butterflies in the beginning but it is always like this with the first stage of the Dakar. After the riverbed, there was a lot of dust but I got into my own rhythm. I am very happy to bring the bike home in the first stage and hopefully this will continue in the next stages as well.”
For Sherco-TVS, the first day turned out to be a mixed bag. Michael Metge led the charge for the Indian team as he finished the opening stage in 12th. His brother, Adrien Metge, was just outside the top-20 in 24th, while Lorenzo Santolino was placed 25th on day 1. Aravind KP was off to a slow start and finished the stage in 70th position. According to KP, he struggled to read the course on the first part of the stage, but improved on the second part. In the coming days, he’ll definitely be looking forward to gaining more places.
As for the overall standings after stage 1, Joan Barreda Bort of Honda Factory Racing led the way, ahead of Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Qunitanilla (2nd) and Ricky Brabec (3rd) of Honda Factory Racing.
In the four-wheel category, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah topped the opening stage, ahead of last year’s winner Carlos Sainz in second and Jakub Przygonski in third.
The next stage will see the rally move to San Juan De Marcona for the first full stage with 552km, including the liaisons, to be done in the heat and dunes.