Hero Motosports Team Rally Completes Stage 2 of Rally Kazakhstan
Hero MotoSports Team Rally riders steadily completed the stage 2 of the Rally Kazakhstan today, despite a tricky terrain, combined with some technical concerns. The challenges prevented the riders from building momentum during the stage.
Starting first for the team Joaquim Rodrigues, was able to maintain a good pace in the opening half of the stage, despite not being very comfortable with the tricky terrain. But as the stage got faster, his rear tyre started troubling him, forcing him to slow down, eventually making him cross the finish line in 11th place.
For Franco Caimi and Sebastian Buhler as well, the day wasn’t much different. After strong starts, the fast Kazakhstan terrain got the better of their rear tyres too. Choosing caution over speed, they too rode at a much slower pace, and were able to complete the stage safely, but not before losing significant time. They are currently in the ninth and tenth places respectively.
The team had expected a stage with off-pistes mixed with deserts and dunes today. Instead, the stage consisted of many super-fast sections over hard ground, which led to the issue with the rear tyres.
The stage saw the riders covering 300 kms from Aktau to Kenderly, with 280 kms of Special, covering deserts, canyons, a rocky descent to the shores of the Caspian Sea and an ascent back up to the plateau before a quick dash to the finish. Today, being the first leg of a Marathon stage, the riders finished in a different Bivouac, where assistance from their teams as well as fellow riders is not allowed. Each rider is allotted 30 minutes to service their own bike.
Tomorrow is the second leg of the Marathon stage, and also the longest stage of the rally, covering 330 km of specials and another 200 kms of liaison. The riders will need to tackle open plains littered with hazards as well as several dunes before they can get reunited with their crew back in the Bivouac in Aktau.
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally: “Today’s stage was superfast, and also, like yesterday, I was not very comfortable riding at very high speed in this kind of terrain. Still, I was able to maintain a good pace. However, I had an issue with the rear tyre after refuel. So, I had to ride really slow and managed to get to the finish line. Lost a lot of time, but we will look into fixing this and hoping for a better performance tomorrow.”
Franco Caimi, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally: “Today was a difficult stage for us. The stage began well and I was feeling good on the bike but around 100kms from the finish, my rear tyre started giving me trouble. It was not what we were expecting, but hoping for a better day tomorrow, and to keep pushing till the end.”
Sebastian Buhler, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally: “The first part of the marathon stage
was going well, even though I had a small crash. After the refueling, the stage picked up pace, and I started having some problems with the rear tyre. So, I decided to slow down to ensure that I was able to make it to the finish safely. Looking forward to a better day tomorrow.”
Provisional Stage 2 rankings
1. Skyler Howes Rockstar Energy Husqvarna 2h 39m 45s
2. Matthias Walkner Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +01m 10s
3. Andrew Short Monster Energy Yamaha Rally +03m 37s
9. Sebastian Buhler Hero MotoSports Team Rally +1hr 21m 12s
10. Franco Caimi Hero MotoSports Team Rally +1hr 25m 19s
11. Joaquim Rodrigues Hero MotoSports Team Rally +1hr 33m 12s
Provisional Overall rankings after Stage 2
1. Matthias Walkner Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 6h 02m 59s
2. Skyler Howes Rockstar Energy Husqvarna + 22s
3. Ross Branch Monster Energy Yamaha Rally + 59s
9. Franco Caimi Hero MotoSports Team Rally +1hr 36m 18s
10. Sebastian Buhler Hero MotoSports Team Rally +1hr 37m 19s
11. Joaquim Rodrigues Hero MotoSports Team Rally +1hr 40m 11s