Merzouga Rally Stage 2: J-Rod, Santosh Make Steady Progress

Hero MotoSports rider CS Santosh finished Stage 2 in 15th position overall, while Sherco TVS riders Aravind KP and Abdul Wahid Tanveer finished in 33rd and 34th positions respectively, Sherco TVS rider Juan Pedrero finished in fourth position while Joaquim Rodrigues of Hero MotoSports Team Rally finished in 9th position.

By Carandbike Team


1 mins read


Published on May 9, 2017

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  • Sherco TVS rider Juan Pedrero finishes in fourth position
  • Hero MotoSports rider CS Santosh finishes in 15th position
  • Aravind KP, Abdul Wahid Tanveer finish in 33rd and 34th position

Hero MotoSports Team Rally riders Joaquim Rodrigues and CS Santosh showed great temperament on a hot and tricky day on Stage 2 of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally to deliver steady performance. Yamaha riders Xavier de Soultrait still leads the standings on Stage 2, with KTM's Gerard Ferres in second position, and Italian Alessandro Botturi of Yamaha bringing up the last podium spot. It's good news for the Sherco TVS tem with Juan Pedrero climbing up to fourth position and Ivan Cervantes of KTM bringing up the fifth position.

The day was marked by special stage of 188 kilometres for the riders who began Stage 2 at the Jasmina lake for a big loop in the Erg Chebbi sand dunes. Altogether 241 km of distance had to be covered including the 53 km liaison section. The stage tested the riders with big dunes, dry river bed crossings and tough navigation sections. Xavier de Soultrait opened the track, till he got a bit lost in the final part of the stage, characterised by river bed crossings and barely visible tracks.

aravind kp at the afriquia merzouga rally 2017

Aravind KP at the Afriquia Merzouga Rally 2017

"I have never opened the stage in the dunes before, so I'm really happy that I could manage the stress. The navigation was very difficult and you had to be careful to follow the road book. From km 100 I rode with Franco (Caimi). We helped each other a lot because team spirit is a priority in rally raid. This is not an individual sport," said Soultrait.

JRod started strong but lost a bit of time in finding a tricky waypoint in the dunes. He made up some time in the second half of the stage but with a lot of dust making visibility a challenge, he decided to be more cautious to bring the bike home safely. JRod finished the day at 9th position as per the provisional rankings.

"Today the start was good and I was aggressive in the dunes to gain time, but around the 50 km mark I lost some time finding the secret waypoint. After the first checkpoint there was a lot of dust and it was hard to attack, so I preferred to keep it safe and bring the bike back home," said JRod.

cs santosh in stage 2 of the merzouga rally

CS Santosh in Stage 2 of the 2017 Merzouga Rally

Indian motorsport star C S Santosh, who finished the first stage in 16th position, rode solid through the second stage and gained a position to finish in top 15.

"First real stage of Merzouga, and I was a bit nervous to start with. My focus was to navigate well and not get lost because today's stage was quite a complex stage with a lot of navigation. I am happy that I was able to achieve that and gave myself a lot of confidence for tomorrow. All in all a very good day and I am looking forward to the upcoming stages," said Santosh.

Two more Indian riders are participating in the Merzouga Rally - Aravind KP and Abdul Wahid Tanveer as part of the Sherco TVS factory rally team. At the end of Stage 2, Aravind KP slipped to 33rd position, while team mate Tanveer, who won the Dakar Challenge India Baja to get entry into the Merzouga Rally, climbed several places to finish in 34th position. Teammate Adrien Metge had to retire due to a technical issue with his motorcycle.

abdul wahid tanveer at the merzouga rally

Abdul Wahid Tanveer in action at the Merzouga Rally

''The first stage went well and I managed to climb up the standings. Stage 2 could have been better but I went down couple of times and the bike did not start for around 20 minutes, so I lost some time there. Also, I lost my way for a few minutes. So, ended up losing 10 positions; but hoping to do better in stage 3 and looking to make up a few places. The main aim is to improve my navigation skills and give my best for the Sherco-TVS team so that we achieve a strong finish," said Aravind.

''The rally has been going great and it has been a huge learning curve for me. Navigation and the use of road-book have been the biggest learnings so far but Stage 2 was a good day for me as I made up a number of places. Luckily I was able to do it without any crashes. The aim for my first International rally is to complete the rally and use the experience gained to continue my amazing journey with TVS Racing," said Tanveer.

In the quad category, Russian Maksimov Aleksandr (Trokya Team) won the stage in front of Argentinian Jeremias Gonzalez, provisional leader of the overall and French Simon Vitse, second in overall with Maksimov in third. In the SSV category the winner of the SS1 Medero-Martin opened the track in front of Rautenbach-Palmeiro, Labille-Niveveau, Henrichy -Bersey (winner of the 2016 edition) and Tonetti-Roman. At the end of the 188 km long stage it was Labille-Niveau who won the stage in front of Tonetti-Roman and Camelia Liparoti. The provisional standing of the overall is: Labille-Niveau, Tonetti-Roman, Henrichy-Bersey.

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