Villamartin, Spain, May, 2021.
Hero MotoSports Team Rally kicked off their Andalucia Rally campaign on a winning note, claiming the top spot in the Prologue stage today.
The team finished the prologue stage of the Rally with JRod securing the first place, Buhler third and the newest Hero Franco Caimi finishing on the fourth place. These standings place the riders in a good stead for tomorrow as they will get to start towards the front of the field, which could prove to be important given the dusty nature of the terrains here.
After successfully completing the administrative and technical checks over the past day and a half, the trio of Joaquim Rodrigues, Franco Caimi and Sebastian Buhler took the start in the afternoon. The short 8km stage, consisting of poorly visible narrow tracks, was the symbolic start to the rally and decided the starting order of riders for the first full stage of the rally on May 13.
The first full stage of the rally will bring the riders to the start line near the town of Arcos de la Frontera before setting them off on 257kms of timed special stage, and bring the stage to a close back at the bivouac in Villamartin.
The 2021 edition will be the second time that the Andalucia rally is conducted with strict Covid-19 protocols in place. From the “closed-door event” format without spectators to the “bio-bubble” and the Covid checkpoints, all possible measures are being taken to ensure the safety of everyone involved. On the regulations front, there have been several new introductions in this edition to make it more technical and also safe, such as not allowing a sighting lap for the prologue stage, use of an electronic Start/Go board, introduction of a new waypoint and mandating each note of the roadbook to be validated amongst others.
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally:“We had a good start to the rally today with a first-place finish. Our main goal is to test the bike and the new settings with Dakar 2022 in our sights and this is a good race to do that. I am really happy to get the rally off with a good result for the team.”
Franco Caimi, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally:“Really a good stage today, my first with the team and the bike and I managed to keep it on the two wheels so I am happy with the start. I think I did well today to finish fourth. The idea is to build it stage by stage and gain confidence so I am in a good position to start for the first long stage tomorrow.”
Sebastian Buhler, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally:“It was a short and nice prologue so I tried to keep it safe. It’s only the beginning of the race so I think third place is a really good position to start the race tomorrow.”
Provisional Rankings – Prologue
1. Joaquim Rodrigues Hero MotoSports Team Rally 06m 13s
2. Joan Barreda Bort Monster Energy Honda Team +01s
3. Sebastian Buhler Hero MotoSports Team Rally +02s
4. Franco Caimi Hero MotoSports Team Rally +05s
5. Lorenzo Santolino Sherco Factory Rally Team +12s