Hero MotoSports register their first-ever win on a global stage as Joaquim Rodrigues ‘JRod’ emerged victorious at the 2019 Pan Africa Rally. CS Santosh took his career-best finish in P5.
Hero MotoSports scored their first win of the season as their rider Joaquim Rodrigues ‘JRod’ emerged victorious at the 2019 Pan Africa Rally. Teammate CS Santosh had a spectacular outing as well, as he finished the rally in fifth position – his personal best and the best ever result by any Indian rider in a global rally.
The win in Pan Africa is JRod’s second rally win with Hero MotoSports – the first one being BAJA India in 2017. The Portuguese rider showed stellar consistency and was able to retain the top spot after six days and 1,500kms. He was challenged by TVS Sherco’s Adrien Metge after Stage 3 as the French rider took lead. However, a mechanical failure saw Metge drop out of the rally. JRod won the rally ahead of Jacopo Cerutti of Solarys Racing Team by a margin of over 11 minutes. Sebastian Buhler of Team Buhler completed the podium.
With Santosh also finishing in top 5, Hero MotoSports is going pretty strong this year. The team has already bagged three podium finishes this year, including the podium finishes at the Merzouga Rally, Desert Storm, as well as victory at Pan Africa Rally 2019. The team will now participate at the Rally Du Maroc in October, before heading to Dakar 2020 in Saudi Arabia.
Commenting on his stellar performance at Pan Africa Rally 2019, Joaquim Rodrigues, said, “I am really happy with this win. The past couple of years have been difficult for me after my crash at the Dakar in 2018. My road to recovery has been long and painful and I am happy to be finally getting back to my 100%. My confidence is back and my back is really good now. Congratulations to Santosh also for doing a great job and posting his personal best. My thanks to the entire team for supporting me and giving the best possible support. This win is for Hero MotoSports Team Rally.”
CS Santosh was equally delighted on his best finish and said, “It’s been a really good race for me. I was consistent and getting better with every stage. You always push yourself to do better than before, race your own limits. Finishing fifth here today is very satisfying. I am quite happy with the way this season has progressed and with my training, so all we have to do now is to build on it to the Dakar. Big congratulations to my buddy JRod for a fantastic win and a big thanks to the awesome team here and our fans.”
As for the other Indian team participating in the rally, Sherco-TVS, things didn’t quite go to plan. The team fielded five riders, namely - Lorenzo Santolino, Adrien Metge, Michael Metge, Johnny Aubert along with their Indian rider, Abdul Wahid Tanveer. However, despite having a strong start, the Sherco-TVS team had a difficult ending to the rally, as only Aubert managed to finish the rally, as he finished in sixth position.