Dakar Rally 2020: Hero Team endures tough second stage

Paulo Goncalves was the best placed of the Hero Motorsports Team Rally drivers, finishing the stage in 12th position and 14th in the overall standings.

Paulo Goncalves pictured during stage 2 of the 2020 Dakar Rally.   -  SPecial Arrangement

Amidst tough riding conditions including rocky terrain and heavy dust, Paulo Goncalves of Portugal held his own to finish 12th in Stage 2 and 14th overall at the Dakar Rally on Monday.

Goncalves led the Hero MotoSports Team even as his colleagues Sebastian Buhler and C.S. Santosh found the going equally and extremely difficult to finish in 21st and 53rd respectively.

The second stage took the competitors from Al Wajh to Neom for a special stage of 367 kms.

Goncalves rode steadily with the sole objective of finishing stage 2 without any damages either to his bike or to himself.

Add to the rough terrain, the super marathon stage brought with it its own difficulties. That stage meant that Goncalves got only 10 minutes to work on his bike.

Buhler, too, did relatively well — he improved his position from 31st the other day — fighting through the dust and rocky sections to finish 25th overall. Joaquim Rodrigues ended up 48th but his overall results will not be counted under wild card regulations.

Goncalves, who just wanted to complete the race, said, “I arrived without any issue with the bike so we are in a good shape to finish the second part of the super marathon on Tuesday. I will try to increase my pace day by day without making mistakes to get the team to a good finish.”

Santosh, who suffered a wrist injury on Sunday, rode reasonably well with persistent pain to end the race. “It was a really difficult day for me with all the pain in my wrist from Sunday’s crash. The stage was really rocky and all the impact was coming onto my hand making it really difficult to hold the bike,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sherco TVS’s Harith Noah finished in 51st position.

In Stage 3 on Tuesday, the rally will do one more loop around the city of Neom covering 404 kms as part of the special stage including the highest section of Dakar at an altitude of 1400m.

The results (Provisional placings)

Stage 2 — Hero Motorsports Team Rally: 12. Paulo Goncalves; 21. Sebastian Buhler; 53. C.S. Santosh.

Overall provisional rankings after Stage 2: 1. Sam Sunderland (Red Bull KTM Racing) 07h: 05m.22s; 2,. Pablo Quintanilla (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) +01m 18s; 3. Kevin Benavides (Monster Energy Honda) +01m 32s; Hero Motorsports: 14. Goncalves; 25. Buhler; 48. Santosh.


(The writer is in Saudi Arabia on the invitation of Hero MotoCorp).

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