Merzouga Rally: CS Santosh, Aravind KP In Top 20 After Stage 5

Hero MotoSports Team Rally riders, Joaquim Rodrigues and C S Santosh have overcome the hardest stage of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally in Morocco. The two-day Marathon stage tested the riders with zones that were quite dangerous and very technical, challenging the riders’ bike control to the maximum. At the end of Stage 5, Sherco TVS rider Juan Pedrero is in fourth position overall, while JRod is in 9th position. India’s CS Santosh is in 17th position in the overall standings, and Aravind KP, riding for Sherco TVS is in 20th position. Yamaha rider Xavier De Soultrait still leads the overall standings, with KTM rider Gerard Farres in second, and Franco Caimi of Yamaha bringing up third position in the overall standings.

After staying overnight on their own, under the stars of the Moroccan desert and another episode of bad sand storm, the riders went to work this morning to complete the penultimate stage of the race. Already made difficult by the absence of the mechanics and the support crew, the second day of the Marathon stage of 206 km tested the riders with many small dunes, big stone fields and tricky navigation throughout.

Joaquim Rodrigues made a good run, taking control of the stage with his cool head, steadfast resolve and ever improving navigational skills. He was in fact very close to clinching the stage victory, only missing it by 1:07 min. In the end he finished the stage in 4th place, his best stage finish since winning the prologue.

“I lost a bit of time yesterday in the Marathon stage, looking for a secret waypoint but today I started off really well and got myself to the end in a very good position. For now, we just wait for the last stage tomorrow and bring my bike home for Hero MotoSports Team Rally,” JRod said.

For C S Santosh too, the stage started well but a nasty crash after that impacted his progress in the stage greatly. Santosh lost a lot of time due to the crash and finished the stage in 36th position. With only the last stage remaining to be conquered, Hero MotoSports Team Rally will be looking to make a last dash in the short 50 km special of Grand Prix Dunes and bring home a good result for the team.

“The Marathon stage is generally the turning point of any cross country any rally. For me the marathon stage started alright but a couple of crashes and navigations errors hampered my performance. I wasn’t feeling too good with the bike and found that I had some damage there. My focus was to bring it home today and get it in shape for the last stage tomorrow,” said Santosh.

The third Indian participant in the rally, Abdul Wahid Tanveer is in 26th position in the overall standings after Stage 5, while team mate and Sherco TVS roder Adrien Metge is in 33rd position overall. Metge has been unlucky at the Merzouga Rally, losing out on the overall standings after he was forced to retire on Day 1 due to technical issues with his bike.

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