Dream Dakar Debut for Hero Motosports: Joaquim Rodrigues claims 10th place, C.S. Santosh finishes in 47

Bangalore,  January 16, 2017: Hero MotoSports Team Rally made motorsports history when it’s two riders, Joaquim Rodrigues and C.S Santosh climbed up the finish ramp at the Automobile Club of Argentina, ensuring that the Indian manufacturer attained the distinction of achieving 100 percent success in the iconic Dakar Rally in its debut appearance. After completing the 9,000-km run today across Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina it was time to pop the champagne.

Dream Dakar Debut for Hero Motosports: Joaquim Rodrigues claims 10th place, C.S. Santosh finishes in 47

Hero MotoSports Team Rally was set up in April 2016 in strategic partnership with German off-road motorcycle specialist, Speedbrain GmbH. But in just a few months, the team set a cracking pace in their race developments and took the plunge into the world’s biggest off-racing event.
For the newest team in the Dakar paddock there was more to celebrate. Rodrigues, not only finished the rally, he exceeded the expectations of the fans and team members by claiming a highly coveted 10th place finish on his first Dakar appearance. Santosh, the team’s second rider, who made his third appearance in the world’s toughest rally, too finished in a highly creditable 47th place in the overall general classification to make it a near perfect Dakar for the Indian Team.

In the morning, the riders had one last thing do: to finish the 64-km 12th special stage of the 2017 edition of the Dakar. In comparison to the length of the specials that are run in this rally, the distance might not appear to be intimidating, but still they needed to ensure there were no unexpected twists to the dream story.

Rodrigues completed his timed run in 33 minutes 57 seconds that put him in 15th place in the stage ranking, while Santosh covered the distance in 40 minutes 39 seconds that put him 45th place for the day. After 12 stages Rodrigues clocked 34 hours 25minutes 59 seconds, while Santosh finished all the timed sections in 42 hours 01 minute 16 seconds.

Mr. Pawan Munjal, Chairman, MD & CEO Hero MotoCorp: This was the debut season of Hero MotoSports Team Rally at Dakar 2017. We had full faith in our riders C.S. Santosh and Joaquim Rodrigues and they demonstrated excellent skill, endurance and temperament with their superlative performance. This is indeed a significant milestone in the global journey of Brand Hero.

Dr. Markus Braunsperger, Chief Technology Officer, Hero MotoCorp: Frankly knowing the team, their team spirit and knowing how professional they are, I believed that they would make it across the finish line. What this team has achieved is much more than what I had expected. It was a huge team effort with great understanding, a good bike and good bunch of professionals working together with the freedom to operate. I am really proud of all of them. For us at Hero MotoCorp a new experience has started and awareness about Brand Hero has increased exponentially on a global level.

Mr. Wolfgang Fischer, Managing Director, Speedbrain GmbH: Mission accomplished with 100 percent arrival at the finish. It’s something that everyone could just wish for a brand-new project, a new team and new partner like Hero MotoCorp, which is biggest motorcycle producer in the world. It’s a dream come true for us and in the partnership between Speedbrain and Hero MotoCorp. We also had the pleasure to have Joaquim Rodrigues, a rookie who showed the world what he is capable of by finishing in the top 10, and CS Santosh, the fastest Indian pilot in our team, finishing in a decent position in the top 50. I am very happy with the result, but I am even more happy that we have a strong team. It’s the beginning a great new adventure. It was indeed a special occasion to have Mr. Pawan Munjal, CMD of Hero MotoCorp at the arrival podium that coincided with the market launch of Hero in the Argentinian market. It couldn’t be better.

Joaquim Rodrigues, Portugal (Comp No 27): Yes, the 2017 Dakar is done, and I am very happy. It was my first rally, so that makes it even more special. And to reach Buenos Aires being in the top 10 is indeed a great feeling. It was something I never thought of in the beginning. I am very thankful to Hero Motosports Team Rally that they taught me about this format of off-road racing. What’s equally important is that both the bikes finished the rally. It shows how good and reliable they are.

C.S. Santosh, India (Comp No. 42): It’s always a pleasure to reach the finish podium in the Dakar. It’s an incredible feeling. I am satisfied with my performance, though I would have loved to finish much higher up in the rankings. But this is the Dakar. There were some good days and some not so good days. I have learnt a lot working with this team and they delivered a very strong and a fast bike. I think we have some interesting days ahead of us. I once again thank the team for lending its full support.

Provisional Stage 12 General Classification
1 Adrien Van Beveren            Yamaha Official Rally Team          Yamaha                                30:29
2. Gerard Farres Guell            Himonisa Dakar Team KTM                                                  30:29
3. Joan Barreda Bort               Monster Energy Honda team     Honda                                   30:47
20 Joaquim Rodrigues           Hero MotoSports Team Rally Hero Speedbrain 35:42
45. C.S. Santosh                        Hero MotoSports Team Rally Hero Speedbrain 40:39

Provisional Overall General Classification
1 Sam Sunderland                    Red Bull KTM Factory team          KTM                                       32:06:22
2. Matthias Walkner               Red Bull KTM Factory team          KTM                                       32:38:22
3. Gerard Farres Guell            Himonisa Dakar Team    KTM                                   32:42:02
10. Joaquim Rodrigues          Hero MotoSports Team Rally Hero Speedbrain 34:25:59
47. C.S. Santosh                        Hero MotoSports Team Rally Hero Speedbrain 42:01:16