Joaquim Rodrigues has won the 2019 Pan African Rally giving Hero MotoSports Team Rally their first rally win for the season. The only Indian competitor in the rally this year was ace-rider CS Santosh, also riding for Hero MotoSports, finished fifth overall as both riders prepare for the next events including their outing at the Dakar Rally in 2020.
Hero’s rivals TVS Sherco Rally Team were leading the standing with Adrien Metge on top. However, Metge was forced to retire from the race with mechanical issues allowing Rodrigues (JRod) to take the lead. After the gruelling six days covering over 1,500kms of the rally, JRod was crowned the champion. This is the second international rally for Hero MotoSports after winning the Baja India in 2017 on home soil.
This year, Team Hero MotoSports has earned some bragging right with three podium finishes this year, including the podium, finishes at the Merzouga Rally, Desert Storm, and the victory here at Pan Africa Rally 2019.
JRod 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 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.”
The next rally the team will part-take in will be the Rally Du Maroc in October which will be the last leg of the season before the team begins its preparations for the 2020 Dakar Rally which will be held in Saudi Arabia for the first time and is scheduled to be held from January 5-17 covering 12 stages with over 9,000 km of running.