Aktau, Kazakhstan, June 09, 2021.
Hero MotoSports Team Rally completed the first stage of the Rally Kazakhstan 2021 with all three of its riders finishing in the top-10. The trio of Joaquim Rodrigues, Franco Caimi and Sebastian Buhler finished in sixth,eighth and tenth positions respectively to hold the same positions in the overall standings too.
Joaquim, who started the stage in sixth place, was not entirely comfortable with the bumpy terrain of the Kazakhstan countryside. Still, his cautious riding rewarded him with a finish just outside the Top 5.
With starting order reversed for Stage 1, Buhler and Caimi found themselves at the second and third positions in the starting order. Once they caught up with the rider in front, they were opening the stage in some parts and had to ride carefully to avoid making any navigation mistakes. Overall, good steady rides from both saw them finish the stage without any issues.
The stage today covered a variety of terrain. Starting off with some hard pack terrain, the track gave way to plains and then dunes with camel grass by the halfway point. After that came some technical terrain with rocky ascents and descents before a wadi crossing, and a final 10km dash to the finish line on relatively smoother terrain.
Tomorrow brings with it the first leg of the Marathon stage. After covering almost 280 kms through deserts, canyons and a rocky descent to the sea, the riders will find themselves in Kenderly and without their assistance crew. The riders will need to service the bikes by themselves, before Stage 3 brings them back to the Bivouac in Aktau.
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally:“The first stage today was a really fast stage with broken pistes. I was not feeling confident enough to maintain a high speed over these bumpy roads, so I decided to take it easy. It is not really my kind of terrain, but I am happy to bring the bike home safely.”
Franco Caimi, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally:“I am really happy with today’s stage. It was my first contact with the Hero Rally 450 in this desert, so I was not sure what to expect. But I felt really good and got into a good rhythm, and also opened the stages at a few points. I am happy and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Sebastian Buhler, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally:“It was a difficult stage at the start, especially starting in second position, but it was a good learning experience. Towards the end the tracks were much faster and as the other riders started to catch us, it became very difficult to ride fast in the dust. So, I decided not to risk it and instead rode safely to bring my bike back to the bivouac.”
Provisional Stage 1 rankings
1. Ross Branch Monster Energy Yamaha Rally 3h 14m 07s
2. Matthias Walkner Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +02m 08s
3. Skyler Howes Rockstar Energy Husqvarna +03m 37s
6. Joaquim Rodrigues Hero MotoSports Team Rally +10m 12s
8. Franco Caimi Hero MotoSports Team Rally +13m 50s
10. Sebastian Buhler Hero MotoSports Team Rally +18m 54s
Provisional Overall rankings after Stage 1
1. Ross Branch Monster Energy Yamaha Rally 3h 19m 53s
2. Matthias Walkner Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +02m 11s
3. Skyler Howes Rockstar Energy Husqvarna +03m 43s
6. Joaquim Rodrigues Hero MotoSports Team Rally +10m 20s
8. Franco Caimi Hero MotoSports Team Rally +14m 20s
10. Sebastian Buhler Hero MotoSports Team Rally +19m 28s