Stage two from Al Wajh to Neom put the riders through rocky terrain and dust, pushing more focus on the navigation.
Hero MotoSports Team Rally got off to a good start in the first stage, with Paulo Goncalves reaching the finish line at Al Wajh in 12th place. Newest addition to the team, Sebastien Buhler opened the campaign with a 31st place finish while ‘Fast Indian’ CS Santosh finished the opening stage in 38th place. Stage two, for the riders was super challenging with more rocky terrain and oodles of dust, the navigation too was tricky. From start to finish, the second stage was 393km long, with only 26km being a liaison section while the rest of the 367km was pure rallying.
Paulo ‘Speedy’ Goncalves carried steady pace, bringing himself and the bike back to the second stage finish in 12th place, putting him 14th in the overall standings. Buhler pushed harder this time, finishing the stage in 21st place, ten places ahead of his previous finish. The German rider safely charged through dust and technical rocky sections to put himself in 25th place on the overall charts. Santosh, who is nursing a hand injury from yesterday’s crash had to bear the brunt of the rocky sections, impacting his ability to register a faster finish. Battling through the pain and his impaired ability to hold the bike, he managed a gritty 53rd place finish in the stage rankings and 48th place in the overall rankings.
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Joaquim Rodrigues ‘J-Rod’ who could not finish the first stage due to a technical issue with the bike, re-started today at the end of the entire starting line. He was at a major disadvantage, as he had to ride through clouds of dust. The determined rider from Portugal did however make it through the finish line in 48th place, with his overall results will not be counted under the wild card regulations.
In the stage 3 scheduled for tomorrow, the Rally will do one more loop around the city of Neom covering 404 kms as a part of the special stage, including the highest section of the Dakar 2020 at an altitude of 1400m.
Paulo Goncalves (Comp No. 8) said, “We finished the stage 2 of the rally today. It was also the super marathon stage for the elite riders and I arrived without any issue with the bike so we are in a good shape to finish the second part of the super marathon tomorrow. I tried to ride safe today especially this being the marathon stage but I have a good feeling with the bike so we are in a good place at the moment. I will try to increase my pace day by day without making mistakes to get the team to a good finish.”
Sebastian Buhler (Comp No: 32) said, “It was a very good stage for me. The stage was very rocky but also fast. There was a lot of dust today making it more difficult to ride. I started with another rider so it’s very difficult to ovetake in dust but I hope to start a bit in the front in the coming stages so that I can out ride this dust and gain some time.”
Joaquim Rodrigues (Comp No. 27) said,” Well as expected, it was a really tough day for me, starting last and then riding behind in everyone’s dust for 367km was horrible. I am happy to make it to the finish line. The team is doing well and that’s what counts. Now 10 more days to go!”
CS Santosh (Comp No: 50) said, “It was a really difficult day for me with all this pain in my hand from yesterday’s crash. The stage was really rocky and all the impact was coming onto my hand making it really difficult to hold the bike. I will get this checked now and hopefully will have a better stage tomorrow.”