Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motorsport team of Hero MotoCorp has announced its rider line-up for the Dakar Rally 2023 marking the team’s seventh consecutive appearance at the Dakar.
At Dakar 2022, Hero MotoSports became the first Indian manufacturer’s team to win a stage at the prestigious rally and now for Dakar 2023, the team will have a rider squad of four members – Franco Caimi, Joaquim Rodrigues, Ross Branch, and Sebastian Buhler – two of them being Dakar stage winners.
Dakar 2023 marks the seventh Dakar for Joaquim Rodrigues (JRod), who won a stage at the Dakar 2022 and is returning to Saudi Arabia with the hopes of rewriting his success. JRod has been with the team since its inception in 2016.
After coming on board in February 2022, it will be the first Dakar for Ross Branch in Hero MotoSports Team Rally colors. He has participated in the Rally on four previous occasions and achieved a stage win in 2020.
Hero MotoSports Team Rally riders Caimi and Buhler will be returning to racing after several months of recovery from their crashes in 2021.
The team will astride the Hero 450 Rally bike optimized to meet changes in the regulations – the most important of which is a new top speed limit of 160 kmph.
The fourth consecutive edition in Saudi Arabia, Dakar 2023, will run for 14 stages over 15 days – two stages more than before, and is claimed to be more challenging than the previous editions. The rally begins on December 31st, 2022 in Jeddah and travels inland toward Ha’il.
The race will head south-east to cross the infamous Empty Quarter, before moving northwards to the final finish at Dammam, on 15th January, 2023. The route traverses over 8600 kms, of which 4700+ kms are timed sections and a total of 365 vehicles are expected to hit the start line, with 143 of them in the motorcycles category.
The 45th Dakar Rally will also be the opening race of the 2nd edition of the World Rally Raid Championship (W2RC).