Aktau, Kazakhstan, June, 2021.
Hero MotoSports Team Rally kicked into high gear for the second race of the 2021 season, with Rally Kazakhstan today. Carrying the Team’s flag will be the exciting trio of Joaquim Rodrigues, Sebastian Buhler and Franco Caimi, who delivered a great finish in the Andalucia Rally 2021 just the previous month.
After successfully completing the administrative checks and vehicle scrutiny in the morning, the riders got their first taste of the Kazakhstan terrain with a 2.7 kms Prologue stage. The results of the short loop outside the city of Aktau will be used to determine the starting order for tomorrow.
Joaquim finished the Prologue in 6th place, followed by Caimi and Buhler in 9th and 10th places respectively. This puts them in a good place for the first full stage of the rally tomorrow.
Joaquim Rodrigues, the experienced Portugese and Franco Caimi, the exciting Argentine rider are both highly regarded talents in the realm of Cross-country rallies and are coming off into this race on the back of strong Top 5 finishes in the recently concluded Andalucia Rally. The German talent Sebastian Buhler has already started making a name for himself, and the Rally of Kazakhstan will give him another chance to gain more experience and build on his skills.
The first full stage, starting tomorrow, will cover 280 kms of specials, with a little of everything that this area has to offer, ranging from hard packs to plains, dunes, rocky ascents and descents. Operating out of Aktau, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, Rally Kazakhstan will cover over 1465 kms of special stages and a total distance of 2275 kms over the next 5 days.
Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally: “It‘s nice to be back at the FIM Cross-Country Rally World Championship, after a covid break since October 2019. We are quite excited for the rally as it’s the first time for bikes here and also a first for Team Hero. Looking forward to experiencing a new country here in Kazakhstan.”
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally:“We are in Kazakhstan for the first race of the FIM World Championship. The Prologue was a little strange to begin with, but we finally got it going and I just played it safe. The feeling was good today, so let’s see how it goes tomorrow with the first stage.”
Franco Caimi, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally:“It was a very short stage, I think it was a minute or less. It was fun, just to check the bikes and the conditions and I really enjoyed it. I am very happy to be here, it’s my first time in Kazakhstan, so it’s very exciting to get to know this new desert. I am enjoying the bike, the team and this desert, so let’s see how it goes tomorrow.”
Sebastian Buhler, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally:“It was a very short prologue, only around 2 kms. It is mainly to see the start order for tomorrow but it felt good. I look forward to a good 5 stages and a nice rally, because with the difficult times we are in, it’s a joy to be able to participate in races like this.”
Provisional rankings – Prologue
1. Ross Branch Monster Energy Yamaha Rally 1m 26s
2. Daniel Sanders Gas Gas Factory Team +0.4s
3. Matthias Walkner Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.7s
6. Joaquim Rodrigues Hero MotoSports Team Rally +2.0s
9. Franco Caimi Hero MotoSports Team Rally +7.4s
10. Sebastian Buhler Hero MotoSports Team Rally +8.4s