Motorsport

Dakar Rally | Hero MotoSports does well

Tricky terrain: Paulo Goncalves negotiated the difficult stages with aplomb.

Tricky terrain: Paulo Goncalves negotiated the difficult stages with aplomb.  

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Goncalves shine, Buhler continues to climb in rankings

It was a day for Hero MotoSports Team Rally to rejoice at the Dakar Rally, but it knows much more remains to be done.

Shrugging off the setback on Tuesday, Hero's riders rode with tact, nous and determination to record their team’s best performance yet overall on Wednesday.

All of them got their act together in Stage 4. Paulo Goncalves and Sebastian Buhler ended the day at fourth and 21st positions respectively, while India’s C.S. Santosh improved his position to 44th from 50th.

Class act

Goncalves was a class act on the day. The Portuguese was undeterred in his eagerness to take the stage early on, instead of riding at the back of the pack. Being in the top 12 in the previous stage, Goncalves exercised his right to choose his starting position and started the stage in the 26th position. If there was any doubt about him carrying the baggage of the previous stage, it was quickly dispelled.

He has clawed back several places from his overnight position of 110th to jump to 63rd in the overall rankings.

Buhler, too, impressed with his composure and consistency as he tackled another fast and tricky stage. He continues his climb in the overall rankings for the fourth straight day to break into the top 20.

Safe approach

Goncalves said his aim was to start cautiously and push later and it yielded dividends. “I started well but in the beginning there was a lot of dust and I decided to stay behind the riders in front of me to avoid any unnecessary risks. After refuelling, though I started to gain more speed and started pushing harder as the road opened to a wider desert,” he said.

Santosh said his hand was feeling much better. “I think I made one mistake which cost me a little but, overall, my hand is feeling much better and I have regained strength in my hand.”

The Stage 4 of the rally moved from Neom towards the next bivouac of Al Ula, covering a total distance of 672km including the special stage of 453 km.

The results (provisional): Stage 4 placings: Hero MotoSports: 4. Paulo Goncalves (Portugal) 4hr:27.02s; 21. Sebastian Buhler (Germany) 4:39.59; 44. C.S. Santosh (Ind) 5:26.13. Overall: Hero MotoSports: 20. Buhler; 41. Santosh; 63. Goncalves.

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

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 11:49:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/motorsport/dakar-rally-hero-motosports-does-well/article30516826.ece

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