Hero MotoSports Team Rally and Sherco TVS Rally Team rank in the top 15 after the opening stage
The 42nd iteration of Dakar concluded the first stage yesterday. After a decade-long run in South America, Saudi Arabia is hosting the grueling rally this year. The opening stage started from Jeddah to Al Wajh, a 752km stage consisting of a 319km special. The stage was laden with fast tracks, off-piste, trial and stony sections, making the opening stage of the 7500km rally very tricky. Dakar 2019 winner Toby Price, piloting the Redbull KTM Factory Racing KTM 450 Rally factory edition won the opening stage, with a lead of 5 seconds over Monster Energy Honda pilot Ricky Brabec despite 2 minute penalty Toby was handed after his roadbook tore 15km after starting the rally. Toby’s teammate Matthias Walkner ended the stage at the third spot.
Both the Indian rally squads – Hero MotoSports Team Rally and Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team – finished in the top 15. Hero MotoSports Team Rally had mixed results at the end of stage one. Paulo Goncalves finished at the 12th spot, Sebastian Buhler came in at the 31st spot while CS Santosh finished at 39th place. Joaquim Rodrigues who suffered a mechanical problem with his bike, was forced to retire from the stage. He will try for a re-start today (day 2) and will be the first competitor in Dakar to avail the new ‘wild card’ rule which will keep him out of contention for overall ranking but could be allowed to continue racing by participating in a separate ranking called “Dakar Experience” for the rest of the rally.
Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team had a good start with Adrien Metge at the 15th spot, Johnny Aubert and Lorenzo Santalino at 22nd and 26th spot. Harith Noah, in his maiden Dakar stage finished at 111th spot following a crash which damaged his navigation tower. He rode the entire stage with no roadbook and a busted eye.
The second stage will commence today from Al Wajh to Neom which includes 367km of special. This will be the first part of the “super marathon” stage, restricting the elite bike and quad riders to just 10 minutes of maintenance work at the end of the day.
Speaking on his stage win in the opening stage of Dakar 2020, Toby price said, "My road book walked out on me after 15-odd kilometres, so it was strange. I was quite lucky in one way because I managed to follow on some dust and just keep up with the guys. Once the road book is gone, then you're pretty much driving blind. At the moment it looks good on paper, but I think we have a bit of a penalty coming. It's not the greatest start, but it's still a long rally to go. We're in good shape, we feel good on the bike and we're happy."