Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January, 2021.
The Stage 4 of the 2021 Dakar Rally today turned out to be a mixed bag for Hero MotoSports Team Rally.
On a positive note, Joaquim Rodrigues continued to inspire everyone with his gritty performances and seta blazing pace today to finish Stage 4 at the sixth position.
On a somber note, Indian ace C S Santosh suffered a crash today and had to forfeit the stage. He was immediately attended to by the on-ground medical team and was found to be stable. For a thorough evaluation and to provide him with the best possible medical care, he has been shifted to a hospital in Riyadh. His 2021 Dakar campaign has come to an unfortunate premature end.
Sebastian Buhler continued to keep it steady and safe with a 24th place finish in the stage. After four stages, JRodclimbs up to the 16th position and Buhler retains his 24th place in the overall standings.
Looking ahead, the team will take a lot of heart from the performances of Joaquim and Sebastian, who will be looking to consolidate their positions further as they arrive at the rest day Bivouac in Hail, two days from now.
The rally will next move to Buryadah for what is expected to be the toughest stage of the rally, running for a total of 624 kms including 419 kms of timed special.
Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager said, “Today was quite a difficult and emotional stage for us as it was the same stage where we lost Paulo last year. It was unfortunate that Santosh had a crash today and he will not be able to continue his Dakar 2021 journey anymore. He was doing very well this year and looking very positive and confident. Please join us in praying for his speedy recovery. On the positive side, this was the best results so far for the team with the 6th place finish for Joaquim and another good stage for Sebastian We are happy with how Joaquim has been getting into a better rhythm with every stage and with Sebastian’s consistency in delivering solid performances. We are keeping our fingers crossed for an incident-free rally now. Thank you to all our supporters for all their love and wishes.”
Joaquim Rodrigues (Competitor No. 27) said, “First of all, my thoughts go out to our brother Santosh and I wish him a speedy recovery. I know that he will pull through to come back stronger. Today was a very tough stage for me as this was where the tragic incident happened last year. It brought back a lot of painful memories for me and I couldn’t sleep all night. I had a nervous start to the stage but as I started to ride, I started to get into a rhythm and my navigation was perfect. I believe it was Paulo who was navigating for me today and I am so happy to know that feeling.”
Sebastian Buhler (Competitor No. 24) said, “We are all very sad at the crash of Santosh and our prayers and wishes go to him for a fast recovery. This is the toughest race on planet and we can always expect the unexpected. I hope he recovers fast and comes back stronger. The stage today was a fast one again. I felt good throughout the stage and got into a good rhythm but about 10 kms before the finish I lost a bit of time in finding a waypoint. But overall it was a good stage and the feeling with bike is also getting better. ”
Provisional Rankings – Stage 4
1. Joan Barreda Bort Monster Energy Honda Team 02h 46m 50s
2. Ross Branch Monster Energy Yamaha Team +05m 57s
3. Daniel Sanders KTM Factory Team +06m 09s
6. Joaquim Rodrigues Hero MotoSports Team Rally +07m 21s
24. Sebastian Buhler Hero MotoSports Team Rally +17m 19s
DNF C S Santosh Hero MotoSports Team Rally – –
Provisional Overall Rankings at the end of Stage 4
1. Xavier De Soultrait HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing 15h 00m 25s
2. Joan Barreda Bort Monster Energy Honda Team +15s
3. Kevin Benavides Monster Energy Honda Team +03m 24s
16. Joaquim Rodrigues Hero MotoSports Team Rally +19m 36s
24. Sebastian Buhler Hero MotoSports Team Rally +48m 48s
RETD. C S Santosh Hero MotoSports Team Rally – –