Hero MotoSports Team Rally made motorsports history when its riders, Joaquim Rodrigues and C S Santosh rode up the finish ramp at the Automobile Club of Argentina.
This was the Hero MotoCorp’s debut appearance in the arduous Dakar Rally which saw the riders traverse 9,000 kilometres across Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.
Set up in April 2016 as a strategic partnership with German off-road motorcycle specialist, Speedbrain GmbH, Hero MotoSports Team Rally took the plunge into the world’s biggest off-road racing event. Importantly, Rodrigues not only finished the rally but he claimed a 10th place finish on his first Dakar outing. Santosh, the team’s second rider, who made his third appearance in the world’s toughest rally, too finished in a highly creditable 47th place in the overall general classification to make it a near-perfect Dakar for the Indian team.
Commenting on their performance, Pawan Munjal, chairman, MD and CEO of Hero MotoCorp, said: “This was the debut season of Hero MotoSports Team Rally at Dakar 2017. We had full faith in our riders C S Santosh and Joaquim Rodrigues and they demonstrated excellent skill, endurance and temperament with their superlative performance. This is indeed a significant milestone in the global journey of Brand Hero.”
Dr Markus Braunsperger, chief technology officer, Hero MotoCorp, added, “Frankly knowing the team, their team spirit and knowing how professional they are, I believed that they would make it across the finish line. What this team has achieved is much more than what I had expected. It was a huge team effort with great understanding, a good bike and good bunch of professionals working together with the freedom to operate. I am really proud of all of them.”
Wolfgang Fischer, MD of Speedbrain GmbH, said: “Mission accomplished with 100 percent arrival at the finish. It’s something that everyone could just wish for a brand-new project, a new team and new partner like Hero MotoCorp, which is the biggest motorcycle producer in the world. I am very happy with the result, but I am even more happy that we have a strong team.”
What the riders said
Joaquim Rodrigues, Portugal (Comp No 27): “Yes, the 2017 Dakar is done, and I am very happy. It was my first rally, so that makes it even more special. And to reach Buenos Aires being in the top 10 is indeed a great feeling. It was something I never thought of in the beginning. I am very thankful to Hero Motosports Team Rally that they taught me about this format of off-road racing. What’s equally important is that both the bikes finished the rally. It shows how good and reliable they are.”
C S Santosh, India (Comp No. 42): “It’s always a pleasure to reach the finish podium in the Dakar. It’s an incredible feeling. I am satisfied with my performance, though I would have loved to finish much higher up in the rankings. But this is the Dakar. There were some good days and some not-so-good days. I have learnt a lot working with this team and they delivered a very strong and a fast bike. I think we have some interesting days ahead of us. I once again thank the team for lending its full support.”