Hero and TVS have a solid Dakar run-up
Both Indian outfits have solid performances at the 2017 PanAfrica and OiLibya rallies
THE OILIBYA RALLY OF Morocco just concluded with the last leg held on October 10. Matthias Walkner from the KTM Factory team finished first, followed by Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec from the Honda factory team trailing behind. Three months ahead of the gruelling Dakar Rally, the OiLibya Rally of Morocco is the last round of the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship and is one of the toughest rallies in the world. Earlier a part of the Paris-Dakar rally, the Oilibya Rally is now an independent rally comprised of some of the toughest riding terrain and inhospitable weather in the world. The Oilibya Rally has been regarded for a while now as something synonymous to a rite of passage to the Rally Dakar.
The two Indian factory teams Sherco TVS and Hero MotoSports finished strongly at the PanAfrica Rally. Joan Pedrero won the rally, handing the team their first win aboard the RTR 450. Pedrero had to ride hard as the challenge came from teammate Adrien Metge and Hero’s Joaquim Rodrigues. J-Rod was leading during the initial stages. However, a mechanical issue dropped him down the order, making it a straight battle for the win between the Sherco TVS riders. Metge ultimately finished 3 minutes 30 seconds behind Pedrero. J-Rod finished seventh, another top 10 performance from the Hero rider.
C S Santosh’s recovery to full strength is on the right path as he finished the gruelling rally, two spots behind teammate Rodrigues. Santosh, who had suffered a back injury at the 2017 Desert Storm, is feeling better on the new version of the Speedbrain 450.
Aravind K P ended the rally in twelfth position. He was able to secure such a high finish despite incurring a 35-minute time penalty on the fourth stage. Aravind has been undergoing extensive training sessions on rally riding and is on a gruelling physical fitness regime to be ready for his second Dakar attempt.
Hero gave Spaniard Oriol Mena a ride for the rally. Mena comes from a background of motocross racing and the event was his maiden rally. Considering that, he performed well – coming home in 30th position. Hopefully, he should get more saddle time between now and Dakar to be in a better position to tackle the toughest rally on the planet.
Moving on to the OiLibya rally, the first three stages of the rally were incredibly tricky, with high speed racing on treacherous terrain. The first stage of the rally was 270 kilometres long and the second stage was 350 kilometres. The first stage of the OiLibya Rally Morocco proved to be an extremely tough challenge for the riders on their way from Fez to Erfoud as they dealt with a rocky route including valleys, stony sections and river beds. The longest special stage of the race also promised to offer a highly complicated track due to heavy amounts of rain. In the end the proceedings had to be cut