Mena continues to impress; Santosh, Rodrigues drop after stage 2 of Dakar
By Saumojyoti S Choudhury
San Juan De Marcona (Peru), Jan 9 (PTI) Hero MotorSports' Oriol Mena continued his fine run and finished the second stage of the Dakar Rally at the 17th spot and 16th overall.
His teammates, C S Santosh and Joaquim Rodrigues, though struggled.
The first full stage of the 41st Dakar kicked off on Tuesday from Pisco, taking the world's gruesome off-road rally all the way to San Juan De Marcona over a total distance of 552km, including a 342 km long special.
Even as all three riders of Hero MotoSports Team Rally successfully completed the challenging second stage of the Dakar Rally 2019, it was a far from impressive outing for Santosh and Rodrigues.
Mena finished the first stage at the 14th spot on Monday, while Santosh and Rodrigues were 20th and 23rd, respectively.
In a fast stage that offered a mix of hard piste, dunes and some seaside riding as well, Mena tackled all of it with ease.
But Rodrigues and Santosh met with some difficulties during the stage, with both having to deal with technical glitches on the way.
Rodrigues was forced to stop and attend to a fuel issue, in the process losing some valuable time while Santosh had to ride with caution in the second part of the stage, sensing some trouble with his clutch.
Portugal's Rodrigues and Santosh finished the second stage in 34th and 37th positions respectively.
In the overall standings, Rodrigues was placed at the 32nd spot while Santosh was 33rd.
In the third stage on Wednesday, the rally will move to Arequipa for an even longer stage of 799 km, including a 331 km long special section, where the riders will be subjected to more challenging dunes.
Mena expressed satisfaction with his outing on Tuesday.
"It was a really good stage for me. The stage had a mix of hard piste, dunes and some seaside as well, so it was interesting to ride. It was a crazy, fast stage but I felt good and the bike performed perfectly," the Spaniard said after the day's job.
Santosh, however, said he took it easy and concentrated on completing the stage after encountering a clutch issue.
"I started really well and I had a good rhythm going for the first 80-90kms. Then on I started sensing some trouble with my clutch, and decided to ease off to make it to the finish line safely," the ace Indian rider said.
Rodrigues too said mechanical problems with his bike ruined his outing.
"I started the stage well but soon I developed a fuel issue. I had to stop to fix that and somehow make it to the refuelling point. I lost a lot of time in the process.
"But after making it to the refuelling point, I pushed hard, got into a good rhythm and made up some time as well," the Portugese rider said.
KTM Racing's Matthias Walkner took the lead after the second stage with a timing of 03:23:57 seconds ahead of Honda Racing duo Ricky Brabec (03:24:19s) and Joan Barreda Bort (03:25:38s).
The other Indian interest in the fray, TVS Racing's Aravind Prabhakar has improved to 60th spot after the second stage