Joaquim Rodrigues, Sebastian Buhler and newly inducted Franco Caimi finished in the top five in the prologue and managed position within the top ten overall at the end of stage one
Hero MotoSports Team rally kick-started the second season of the Andalucia rally on May 12. It is the second iteration of the Andalucia rally to take place without spectators in adherence to the strict Covid-19 guidelines. In the 2021 season, there are several new changes incorporated along with the strict guidelines such as not allowing a sighting lap for the prologue stage, no use of an electric start/go board and also the introduction of a new waypoint. Also, the Hero MotoSport team got Argentine rider Franco Caimi on board, who will join Joaquim Rodrigues and Sebastian Buhler to compete against other riders in the Road to Dakar 2022 campaign. The riders will be covering 1629km that includes 1244km of special stages.
After completion of technical and administrative checks, the riders set-off for the short eight kilometer prologue stage. The short stage consisted of narrow tracks which were poorly visible. At the end of the prologue, all the three Hero riders finished within the top five, with JRod at P1 with a timing of 06:13 minutes, Buhler at P3 with a difference of two seconds and newly inducted Caimi at P4 with a difference of five seconds from the lead.
Stage 1 of the 2021 season was 257km long and included a special of 177km. The stage with medium fast tracks tested the riders skills in the same zone as last year. The difference however was that the sections were split into two. Also, due to poor visibility during the start of the stage made JRod commit a navigation mistake, eventually losing time to find his way. At the end of the stage, team Monster Energy Honda’s Joan Barreda Bort was at P1 with timing of 02:12:46 hours, followed by Sherco Factory Team rally’s Lorenzo Santolino at P2 with a difference of 22-seconds and Buhler at P3 with a difference of 42-seconds in the overall standings. Caimi retained his P4 prologue position in the overall rankings of Stage 1 with a difference of 01:34 seconds.
After finishing the stage in P3, Sebastian Buhler said, “It was a good and positive stage for me. I started with a bit of caution because we had ruts and tall grass all around making it difficult to spot the dangers. So, I changed my riding style a bit to adapt to the terrain and rode without any mistakes to make it safely across the finish line with a good result.”
Franco Caimi said “It was a good second contact with the bike in a beautiful stage. We had an early morning start so the visibility was not that good but I had good fun riding today. In the first part of the stage, I had a minor fall, hurt my knee a bit but regained my confidence and rode comfortably through to the finish.”
The second stage of the 2021 season is scheduled for today which will be a total of 451km including the longest special stage of 339 kilometers.