Oriol Mena gets his 1st Podium in the Rally Sport, Joaquim Rodrigues posts his best ever Rally finish
It was a day of many “firsts and bests” today for Hero MotoSports Team Rally, as the stage 5 brought the curtains down on the 2019 edition of the Merzouga Rally.
With a 3rd place finish, Oriol Mena bagged his first ever podium in rally sport since his debut, just over a year back in 2017. For Hero MotoSports Team Rally, it was a perfect start of the season as they claimed their first podium of the season. Joaquim Rodrigues, was not too far behind in his podium chances as he finished just shy of a spot inside the top 3, at 4th position. This was also his best performance till date in the rally sport.
Throughout the 5 days of the Rally both Oriol Mena and Joaquim Rodrigues delivered solid and consistent performances to keep the team in the hunt for the podium. Mena was impressive as ever, near perfect in navigation and showing great temperament and understanding of the sport. Joaquim Rodrigues, still on his recovery journey after the crash at the Dakar last year, is fast getting back to his earlier form and is pushing his performance levels higher with every race.
From a team perspective, there are many positives to be taken back, including the fact that the bikes have performed really well throughout the rally, and also many learning as well to continue improving the team’s performance in every aspect of the sport.
Earlier in the day, the Erg Chebbi dunes played the theatre to the final battle for the standings at the Merzouga Rally 2019. In a relatively shorter but certainly the most spectacular stage – The Grand Prix Dunes – the competitors sweat it out one last time, over 170 kms of pure dunes to claim the final spoils for their efforts over the past week.
Oriol Mena, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “It was a crazy stage today, typical of any last stag of the Merzouga Rally. I started really good leading the stage for a bit and riding well with the lead group. But a few kms into the stage I had to break hard to avoid the rider in front of me and had a minor crash. Then on I lost my reach with the lead group but maintained by momentum to reach the finish line. I finished 3rd so it’s my first podium and it is a very special feeling. My thanks goes out to the entire Hero MotoSports team, our friends and colleagues at Hero and above all, our fans and supporters.”
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “It has been a tough week at the rally that ended today with the motocross style start. I started at the back today but very quickly moved into the top 3 and really enjoyed riding with those guys. I finished 3rd today so it was a good finish to the rally for me. Overall I am happy with my performance in this rally as I am beginning to get back my pace. It’s a good feeling to know that I can still do it. My congratulations and thanks to the entire team for all their support and big thanks to all our friends back at Hero and fans in India.”
Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “We are very happy with our performance at the Merzouga Rally. My congratulations to the entire team for an excellent effort and thanks to all our fans and friends at Hero. Oriol has proved yet again what a top level performer he is, with a podium finish. Joaquim was a touch unlucky to miss out on a podium himself, but his comeback journey after the crash has been impressive and inspiring for all of us. The team has shown great bonding and race awareness and we are happy with the start we have made into our season. Now we go back and look into the learning from this race and start preparing for the next one."
Provisional Rankings of the Stage 5
1. Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha Racing 55m 01s
2. Jamie McCanney Dragon Rally Team +01s
3. Joaquim Rodrigues Hero MotoSports +03s
4. Jaume Betriu FN Speed Team +17s
7. Oriol Mena Hero MotoSports +02m 44s
Provisional Overall Rankings after the Stage 5
1. Adrian Van Beveren Yamaha Racing 15h 28m 02s
2. Ross Branch BAS Dakar Team +24m 01s
3. Oriol Mena Hero MotoSports +33m 01s
4. Joaquim Rodrigues Hero MotoSports +34m 21s
5. Alessandro Botturi Africa Dream Racing +46m 41s
Source Hero MotoSports Team Rally's official press release