Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motorsport team of the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer, Hero MotoCorp Ltd., today announced its Riders for the Dakar Rally 2020.
Participating with four riders for the first time, the Team will take on the Dakar 2020 with – 2019 Pan Africa Rally winner – Joaquim Rodrigues, Indian Ace rider – CS Santosh, Dakar Rookie of the Year 2017 – Oriol Mena and the newest addition, Former World Rally Champion – Paulo Goncalves.
Still a young team, established in 2016 and with just three Dakar Rallies under its belt, Hero MotoSports Team Rally has emerged as one of the top teams in international motorsports arena. With two back-to-back Top 10 Dakar finishes and a 100% arrival rate for the machines, Hero MotoSports Team Rally has become a force to reckon with.
For Hero Motosports Team Rally, this season has been a significant one so far. While the Team has consistently improved its performances with each passing year, 2019 saw it staking claim on the Podium. Stepping up the game with a Rally win (Pan Africa Rally), two Podium finishes (Merzouga and Desert Storm), four stage wins (1 in Silkway Rally, 2 in Pan Africa and 1 in Rally Du Maroc where Paulo won an important stage against all the top riders in the sport) and six stage podiums (Silkway Rally), this season saw the factory team of Hero Motosports turn a page in their journey.
Vikram Kasbekar, Executive Director – Operations (Plants) and Chief Technology Officer, Hero MotoCorp, said, “In a short span of time Hero MotoSports Team Rally has already crossed several significant milestones, which is a matter of pride for us. Going ahead, I am sure the Team will achieve even better results. Our participation in the Rally events is also proving us with valuable insights into developing our future line-up of products. Some of these learnings have already been incorporated into products such as XPulse 200 and its Rally-Kit. I am sure the Dakar 2020 is going to be yet another exciting experience and the team is fully-geared up for the challenge.”
Announcing the Team today, Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “We have had a good year so far and we want to close it on a high with a strong performance at the Dakar 2020. The preparations for the Team have been good and all riders are in good shape. The bikes have also been performing without any glitches. Now we will enter the last phase of our preparations before heading to the Dakar at a new destination, Saudi Arabia. It will be a new challenge for everyone. We are determined to compete well and improve our results this year.”
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said: “I can feel the difference between this year and the last. I feel much fitter and that has reflected in my performances also. The Team has had an exceptional ‘Road to Dakar’ this season with podium finishes and of course the win at Pan Africa Rally. We have been training particularly hard with a focus on delivering a good performance and I look forward to an exciting Dakar in 2020.”
CS Santosh, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “This season of Dakar is a comeback for me after the crash last year. I am confident of the preparations and good momentum built through the year with strong performances, including the first-ever Top 5 finish in an International Rally (Pan Africa Rally) for me. I look forward to delivering a solid performance, enjoy the process and arrive at the finish line.”
Oriol Mena, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said: “I am getting back to the competitive rally racing after the accident during training session in Maroc recently. I am entering the toughest race of the calendar with a cautious outlook and a target to cross the finish line safely at Dakar 2020.”
Paulo Goncalves, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “Representing Hero Motosports Team Rally has been very exciting for me and I am very happy to join this promising team. The initial couple of outings with the Team during Silkway Rally and Rally Du Maroc have been very encouraging and full of exciting possibilities. The whole team is focused on better results this year and pre-season testing has been very positive. So, I’m feeling strong for this season and I hope we make history together.”
The 42nd edition of the Dakar Rally will be held in Saudi Arabia in 2020. Starting in Jeddah on January 5, 2020, the Rally will conclude 12 stages later in Qiddiyah near the Saudi capital of Riyadh. With an overall distance close to 7,900 kms, the competitors will battle over 5,000km of special stages. In addition to discovering the Saudi Arabian dunes in the second half of the rally, the first half of the Dakar will take the crews through a labyrinth of tracks where navigation skills will be essential.
Hero MotoCorp entered international motorsports with the formation of its rally racing team, ‘Hero MotoSports Team Rally’ in 2016. The Team has already demonstrated immense promise with impressive performances across the world, participating in rallies across four continents – Silkway Rally in Russia, Mongolia and China, BAJA India and Desert Storm in India (Asia), Merzouga, Olibiya and Pan Africa in Morocco (Africa), Baja Spain (Europe) and Atacama Rally in Chile and Desafio Inca and Dakar Rally (South America).