After a forgettable Stage 5, Hero MotoSports Team Rally’s Joaquim Rodrigues wasted no time in bouncing right back to his form with a solid P8 finish in today’s stage and this has now put him up at P17 in overall standings. What’s really impressive is that he was just about four and a half minutes slower than the stage leader. Teammate Sebastian Buhler on the other hand dropped from P20 to P21 in the overall standings after finishing the stage in P21.
After a very difficult Stage 5 yesterday which saw a number of small crashes, navigation errors and many participants reaching the bivouac late, a decision was taken to delay the start of Stage 6 by an hour and a half. To make up for this delay and to reduce the difficulty level a little, today’s Stage 6 was shortened by 100km as well.
Although today's stage was shortened, it was still extremely physical with plenty of dunes and dunettes. JRod had a flawless race despite the physical challenge. He was very impressed with the bike as well. A very happy JRod said, “Physically, it was very demanding but I was able to have a very good race and bring the Hero to the finish line. The bike has been performing really well and has helped me in achieving this result. I have to thank Hero for giving me a great bike. So to Hero, thank you! And I'm just glad that we've finished the first week of Dakar."
Sebastian Buhler has been all about consistency in this year’s Dakar. His cautious approach to every stage has made sure that he clocks a decent time on a daily basis. After moving up from P24 to P20 in the previous stage, the rider has now dropped down to P21 in the overall standings. Post race, it seemed that, like all other riders, he was just glad to have finished the first leg. He said, "We didn't have much of navigating to do today. It was about 300-400km of motocross. It was nice, but very challenging physically. The bike is doing very well and we've arrived at the rest day with no injuries or issues with the bike."
As for their teammate CS Santosh, there have been no more medical updates yet. We know that he is being sedated to help him recover from his head trauma, and that the scans indicate that he will make a full recovery.
Tomorrow is a much needed rest day for all the riders. A day to just calm their nerves, get some good rest, rejuvenate their body and mind and sort out any mechanical issues as well and prepare for the second leg of the rally. After the day’s rest, Stage 7 will take the riders from Ha'il to Sakaka, a total of 738km which includes a 471km special stage.