The two cross-country rally racing squads that have kindled Indian interest in the Dakar Rally completed the first event in their preparation for the 2018 edition of the famous South American event as the Merzouga Rally in Morocco came to a close yesterday.
The Franco-Indian partnership of Sherco-TVS celebrated a top five finish 934km over six special stages in the Moroccan Sahara near Merzouga and Erfoud.
Juan Pedrero Garcia was classified fourth overall at the end of the rally that was won by Xavier de Soultrait of Yamaha, followed by Gerard Farres Guell of KTM and Franco Caimi of Yamaha.
Meanwhile the Indo-German partnership of Hero Motosports and Speedbrain Rally managed to get a rider into the top 10 with Joaquim Rodrigues, a top ten finisher at this year's Dakar Rally and the winner of the India Baja classified ninth
CS SANTOSH LEADS THE INDIANS
Among the three Indian riders, Hero's CS Santosh was 17th overall after once breaking into the top 15. Sherco-TVS' Aravind KP was 21st overall while Tanveer Abdul Wahid had a satisfactory international debut in 27th overall out of the 76 riders that were officially classified at the end of the rally.
Tanveer had booked his spot to compete in the Merzouga Rally and next year's Dakar Rally by being the highest placed rider who had not taken part in the Dakar at the India Baja.
"What a great end to a fantastic 6 days of racing here in Morocco," said Santosh. "It has been a year since my journey with Hero began and I have definitely made a lot of progress from the way I rode last year to this year.
"I came here with the target to gain experience and finish the Rally with a decent result. I’m happy to have achieved both. Overall, an exciting and purposeful Rally for the whole team."