Hero MotoSports Team Rally’s Joaquim Rodrigues finished P13 and Sebastian Buhler finished in P24; CS Santosh to be flown back to Bangalore
The Ninth stage of Dakar 2021 was a loop stage which started and ended in Neom. Sebastian Buhler was in his usual consistent form and crossed the line in P24 to move up from P19 to P16 in the overall rankings. Teammate Joaquim Rodrigues, who had a small shoulder injury during Stage 8, bounced back to form and finished in P13 to jump up from P16 to P12 in the overall leaderboard.
Stage 9 was especially tough for the riders in Moto category as the sand today was dense and difficult to ride on and the route had rocks too. Adding to that, the team was also very emotional as one year ago, in Stage 9 of the 2020 Dakar, they lost their teammate Paulo Goncalves.
JRod was thankful to finish the stage and be back in the bivouac safely. It was visibly clear that he had a lot to go through since he lost his teammate last year to a crash. Post race, a very emotional JRod said, "Today was very difficult for me. I was very emotional early on in the stage. One year ago, a lot happened. When I went to the start today, I didn't really know if I even wanted to start the race. I had tears in my eyes and all I could think of was what happened a year ago. But then, I had to do it. That stage itself was tough, very dangerous, too many rocks. Then, I saw that Toby Price had crashed and I just slowed down after that. It was a very tough battle today." JRod couldn't hold his tears back at the end of the sentence.
Sebastian Buhler, who has been gradually moving up the rankings, said, "The beginning was tough as I had navigation problems. But I'm happy that this stage is over as it brings us all some really bad memories. I'm just thankful that we've finished safely." Speaking about the bike, he said, "Because the bike was in good condition, I could ride more freely today." Both the riders have been all praises about the new Hero 450 Rally throughout the season.
As for CS Santosh who had an unfortunate crash in Stage 4 and suffered a head trauma and a dislocated shoulder, the team is now looking at options to bring him back to his hometown in Bengaluru. According to the doctors, while CS is being airlifted, he will remain in an induced coma as it is the best way to keep the strain and stress on his body at a minimum. CS has been under observation in an induced coma for six days now. We wish him a speedy recovery!
Tomorrow, Stage 10 of Dakar 2021 will take the riders from Neom to AlUla, a total of 583km, including a special stage of 342km. The route is said to have a lot of hilly areas and navigating through the valleys correctly could be the deciding factor.