The Hero MotoSports riders start the first full stage from the top 10 positions and the 2021 Kasakhastan Rally will see the team complete 1465 km of special sections over the next five days.
Hero MotoSports Team Rally commenced the 2021 Rally Kazakhastan by bagging the top 10 places in the prologue stage. Team riders including Joaquim Rodrigues, Sebastian Buhler and Franco Caimi return for the Kazakhastan Rally after a brilliant show during the 2021 Andalucia Rally last month. After successful administrative checks and vehicle scrutiny, the riders got their first taste of the Kazakhstan terrain with the 2.7 km prologue stage.
Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally: “It’s nice to be back at the FIM Cross-Country Rally World Championship, after a covid break since October 2019. We are quite excited for the rally as it’s the first time for bikes here and also a first for Team Hero. Looking forward to experiencing a new country here in Kazakhstan.”
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, said, “We are in Kazakhstan for the first race of the FIM World Championship. The Prologue was a little strange, to begin with, but we finally got it going and I just played it safe. The feeling was good today, so let’s see how it goes tomorrow with the first stage.”
Franco Caimi, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, said, “It was a very short stage, I think it was a minute or less. It was fun, just to check the bikes and the conditions and I really enjoyed it. I am very happy to be here, it’s my first time in Kazakhstan, so it’s very exciting to get to know this new desert. I am enjoying the bike, the team and this desert, so let’s see how it goes tomorrow.”
Sebastian Buhler, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, said, “It was a very short prologue, only around 2 kms. It is mainly to see the start order for tomorrow but it felt good. I look forward to a good 5 stages and a nice rally because with the difficult times we are in, it’s a joy to be able to participate in races like this.”
The short loop outside the city of Aktau will be used to determine the starting order for the first full stage. Hero’s Joaquim Rodrigues, also known as J-Rod, was the fastest in the group and finished in sixth place. Franco Caimi is placed ninth, followed by Sebastian Buhler in 10th place.
Both J-Rod and Caimi are talented in cross-country rallies with years of experience behind them and come to Kazakhastan on the back of strong top-five finishes in the Andalucia Rally. Meanwhile, Buhler has been steadily making his name in the cross-country rally space and the Rally of Kazakhstan will be a nice platform for the rider to build his skills.
The first full stage will see the riders cover 280 km of the special section across the varied range. This includes hard packs, plains, rocky ascents and descents, and dunes. The total rally will cover over 1465 km of special stages and a total distance of 2275 km over the next five days. The Kazakhstan Rally is operating out of Aktau, on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Provisional rankings – Prologue
1. Ross Branch Monster Energy Yamaha Rally – 1m 26s
2. Daniel Sanders Gas Gas Factory Team – +0.4s
3. Matthias Walkner Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – +0.7s
6. Joaquim Rodrigues Hero MotoSports Team Rally – +2.0s
9. Franco Caimi Hero MotoSports Team Rally – +7.4s
10. Sebastian Buhler Hero MotoSports Team Rally – +8.4s