Merzouga Rally: Sherco TVS leads Hero after Stage 1
Sherco TVS had the upper hand over Hero in the first stage of Merzouga Rally on Monday.
The opening stage was divided into two loops of 110.7km and 96.01km respectively, and began at 8am from the base of operations at the Timbuktu hotel.
The first part of the stage featured tricky navigational challenges, while the second one comprised of dunes, sand and water zones.
Joan Pedrero set the sixth fastest time for Sherco TVS, 13m50s down on standings leader Joan Barreda.
“The stage was a test of our navigational skills and included dunes, sand as well as water zones,” he said. “I am happy with my performance and look forward to improving my rankings in the next stage.”
Santolino Lorenzo finished seven minutes adrift of his teammate in ninth, making it two Sherco TVS riders in the top 10.
Duplessis Diego Martin was not too far behind in 12th, while Vanni Cominotto was classified 27th.
2018 Dakar star Oriol Mena led the charge for Hero, setting the 11th fastest time astride the recently-upgraded RR 450.
“First part of today’s stage had really difficult navigation,” Mena explained. “I started the stage at the 3rd position so there were no tracks to follow as well, so I had to put all my focus in navigating as well as I could today.
“At one point, I lost a few minutes in finding the correct way but I managed to collect all the waypoints.
“The second part of the stage was relatively easy except for one point in the river where it was difficult to find the way.”
CS Santosh, the only Indian rider competing in this year’s Merzouga Rally, ended 20th after losing time in the second loop.
He sits 58m32s behind stage pacesetter Barreda and just over 30 mins adrift of his teammate Mena.
“Today’s stage was a bit difficult for me as the two loops were the same today for bikes and the Side-by-Side vehicles,” he said.
“I started behind the SSVs so I had to be careful with the navigation as there were a lot of tracks everywhere.
“The first loop was tricky but I made some time in some places and overall kept my mistakes to the minimum. In the second loop again I started behind the SSVs and lost some time in trying to pass them.”
Merzouga Rally: Barreda defies injury to win stage one
Merzouga Rally: Benavides wins stage two, Barreda leads