A bright and sunny morning greeted the competitors as the final stage of the Dakar Rally 2019 began in the Pisco region.For Hero MotoSports Team Rally, it marked a glorious day as the team secured its second back-to-back Top 10 finish at the Dakar Rally. The Team also successfully achieved its third successful finish at the Rally, with its riders arriving at the finish line in all the three years that it has participated at the Dakar.The final stage was all about bringing the bike home safely across the finish line at Pisco, which was achieved expertly by both Joaquim Rodrigues and Oriol Mena as they finished the stage in 12th and 17th positions respectively. With the final stage results in, Mena is placed at the 9th position and JRod at 17th position in the overall standings of the Dakar 2019, bringing in a Top 10 and a Top 20 finish for the Team in the toughest rally race on the planet.It was a superlative show put on by Spaniard Oriol Mena throughout the Dakar 2019. His sporting acumen and superb temperament was at display once again as he got through the stages in a near flawless fashion while some of the more experienced and exalted peers faltered now and then. With this performance Mena is beginning to improve his reputation from being the “Best Rookie of the Dakar” last year to being one of the “Heroes of the Dakar” this year.On the other hand, Joaquim Rodrigues ensured that his comeback, after the crash last year, was a successful one. He put on a gritty show, fighting his old injuries and battling the new challenges, not once bowing down or giving up. His performance at the Dakar this year reinforces his status as a force to reckon with in the near future.
On the technical front, the bikes performed with absolute reliability, giving the riders supreme confidence and an extra edge over some of the other more experienced factory teams.The short 112km final stage offered one concluding round on the dunes of Pisco to the competitors. The dune-heavy 112 km special kept the leaders on their toes, while providing others a perfect terrain for aggressive riding and an opportunity to move up the general classification.The Dakar Rally came to a final halt in the seaside district of Magdalena in Lima for the triumphal parade and celebrations that marked the end of what has been one of the toughest editions of the Dakar Rally yet.Oriol Mena (Comp No: 7): What a Dakar this has been. Lots of ups and downs, even the very last stage was quite tough. I am very happy with my performance overall and happy to bring in another Dakar for Hero MotoSports Team Rally. I think it was a better Dakar for me this time as we went through some amazing stages and terrains. I’m really happy that I could finish in the top 10 again. The Team and my bike have supported me throughout and I want to thank all of them from my heart.Joaquim Rodrigues (Comp No: 27): This is an emotional moment for me. I wanted to come here and finish, something I could not do last year. I started this Dakar and finished it at the same special where I crashed last year. Isn’t that something! I am so relieved to finish this time and win this battle. I want to thank my Team as they always stayed behind me, even when I was at my lowest and there were chances that I may be resigned to a wheelchair. Now I will go home and get surgery done on my back and then start my recovery again to get into the shape where I was before the crash. It’s a long process but I am very motivated now to get through this for my family, my team and my supporters.
Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally: We are very happy with our performance in this Dakar. We all knew it would be a tough Dakar, but it turned out to be a few notches above our expectations. This was also probably the most competitive Dakar we have seen in recent times. The skill levels of teams and riders are going up every year and the competition is quite tough amongst the top 20-30 riders. Considering all this, our result is very good as both our riders did extremely well to come out in top 10 and top 20 standings. It was overall a much better Dakar for us as we committed fewer navigation mistakes, had no issues with the bike and put up a more solid performance in general.Oriol Mena has been great this year and another top 10 finish at the Dakar speaks volumes of his skills and capabilities. Joaquim was making a comeback this year, and we are really elated to see him finish the Dakar as well. His spirited show, battling the back injury, and the tough stages, inspired us all to race our own limits every day. Santosh, unfortunately, could not finish this Dakar, but we are quite relieved to know that his injuries are not major and we should see him back in action soon. Thanks to all our families, friends and supporters for all their wishes and being with us all through our journey.Dr. Markus Braunsperger, CTO, Hero MotoCorp Ltd. and Head of Hero MotoSports: “My congratulations to the entire team in this superlative effort and for putting India and Hero MotoCorp on the high pedestal in the world of rally sport once again. This result is a testimony to the hard work the team has been putting in. There has been improvement in the bike and rider trainings over the last couple of years and everyone’s alignment towards a shared goal, have resulted in an impressive finish.