Hero's Joaquim Rodrigues Wins PanAfrica Rally 2019, CS Santosh Finishes In Top 5

Indian team Hero MotoSports Team Rally rider Joaquim Rodrigues (JRod) has won the 2019 PanAfrica Rally at the end of the fifth and final stage earlier today. The team bags its first rally win for the season with JRod completing the challenging 1500 km run over the last five days. Meanwhile teammate and the only Indian rider on the grid, CS Santosh finished fifth in the overall rankings, securing his career’s best-ever result in an international rally. The PanAfrica Rally is also the team’s second win in an international motorsport event, having won the Baja India in 2017. It also needs to be noted that Hero MotoSports had fielded only two riders in the rally, both of which managed to safely make it to the finish line.

JRod’s victory comes after a long health recovery after a horrid crash during Dakar 2018. The win does emerge as a long pending one for the Portuguese rider. The rider had two stage wins under his belt and was consistently in the top 10 across all the stages. Rodrigues started the fourth stage in P2 and moved up to the top in the overall rankings after Sherco TVS rider Adrien Metge had to abandon the race due to technical issues. Keeping his momentum, JRod started the the final stage at P5 and finished in fourth place, 2m behind the stage leader. But an overall tally of points placed him on the top completing the rally in a time 16h21m43s.

Sherco TVS rider Adrien Metge went out of contention in Stage 4.

CS Santosh, meanwhile, had an incredible run and the rider and was consistently improving with every stage. Having moved up from P10 to P5 by Stage 3, the rider worked hard to retain the position and finished at P7 in Stage 4, while the final stage saw him finish in the 10th spot, 03m52s behind the stage leader, and was 01h22m43s behind JRod in the overall time sheets.

Defending champions Sherco TVS Rally Team, the team had a single finish in the 2019 PanAfrica Rally with the new recruit Johnny Aubert crossing the chequered flag. India’s Abdul Wahid Tanveer was the first to exit the rally after an injury in the prologue stage, which was followed by the 2018 winner Michael Metge making an unfortunate exit in Stage 3 over technical issues. It was a similar case with his brother and teammate Adrien Metge who was leading the rally until Stage 4 and had to abandon the same over technical issues. Johnny Aubert finished the final stage in at P8, while securing sixth place in the overall standings.

Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager and Head, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “A fantastic week of racing came to a highly deserved culmination today for JRod and Santosh. My compliments to the entire team for putting up a great performance and thanks to our fans and supporters. JRod’s journey has been an inspiring one! From his dream debut at the Dakar and winning the first ever rally for Hero MotoSports in 2017, to his severe injury in Dakar 2018, and then to make an impressive come back today, is something special. Santosh has been a Global Ambassador for the Indian motorsports fraternity and posting his best ever result today, will bring a lot of positivity for him and the sport in India. Looking forward to our next race in eight days, where for the first time, we will start with the full strength four rider configuration.”

Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports said, “I am really happy with this win. The past couple of years have been difficult for me after my crash at the Dakar in 2018. My road to recovery has been long and painful and I am happy to be finally getting back to my 100%. My confidence is back and my back is really good now. Congratulations to Santosh also for doing a great job and posting his personal best. My thanks to the entire team for supporting me and giving the best possible support. This win is for Hero MotoSports Team Rally.”

C S Santosh, Rider, Hero MotoSports said, “It’s been a really good race for me. I was consistent and getting better with every stage. You always push yourself to do better than before, race your own limits. Finishing fifth here today is very satisfying. I am quite happy with the way this season has progressed and with my training, so all we have to do now is to build on it to the Dakar. Big congratulations to my buddy JRod for a fantastic win and a big thanks to the awesome team here and our fans.”

Commenting on the performance David Casteu, Team Manager, Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team said, “It was a tough day for our riders however, Johnny Aubert showed tremendous character to comeback and finish at the fifth position. It was his debut at the PanAfrica Rally 2019 and we are super happy that he made it to the final leg of the race. I wish him all the best for the next stage.”

Jonny Aubert, Racer, Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team said, “I am very happy with my performance and for being able to come back and finish in top 10. This is my debut Rally with Sherco TVS and has been a great learning experience for me.”

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