Additionally, the team has rested CS Santosh for this event. This will allow him more time to return to full fitness from his crash at the 2019 Dakar rally .
Post the scrutiny and the administrative checks, the competitors were given a free practice run of 38km. This gave them a flavour of the terrain, environment and their equipment. A short 2km prologue followed the free practice to establish the starting order for Stage 1. JRod and Oriol finished the prologue stage, ridden in the small dunes in the Erfoud region, at the 5th and 8th positions respectively.
The Afriquia Merzouga Rally offers an ideal training ground to kick start the preparations for the mighty Dakar. The 2019 edition of the Merzouga Rally is touted to be much more than previous years as it is expected to be more technical and tougher, exploring the famous dunes of Merzouga, Erg Chebbi and the Moroccan off-road country. The rally will cover 1200kms in total, including 750kms of special stages, in 5 days from 1st April – 5th April, 2019.
Merzouga Rally has been a happy hunting ground for Hero MotoSports Team Rally. In their fourth outing here, the Team will once again look to achieve a strong performance and start their ‘Road to Dakar 2020’ on a positive note.
Oriol Mena, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “Looks like it’s going to be a difficult race, especially looking at how bad the weather has been in the past few days we’ve been here. Today we had a short prologue of 1.8 kms in softs sands with deep lines. I am happy with how I rode today and looking forward to the full stage tomorrow. It’s just the first day of the race, so we’ll see it through day by day.”
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “I’m happy to be riding again. It’s our first race after the Dakar and I am feeling good. I think it’s going to be a really hard rally, especially in navigation, so my aim will be to get across the finish line tomorrow and then we’ll see how it goes from there.”
Results of the Prologue Stage