Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, January 4, 2020
Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the rally racing team of Hero MotoCorp – the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer, began its campaign at the 42nd edition of the most gruelling race on the planet – the Dakar Rally – in Jeddah today.
This year, Hero MotoSports Team Rally will field a four-rider team that includes Paulo Goncalves (Competitor No. 8), Joaquim Rodrigues (Competitor No. 27), C S Santosh (Competitor No. 50) and 25-year-old Sebastian Buhler (Competition no. 32), the latest addition to the team.
The confident quartet rolled off the ceremonial podium today in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans assembled in the beautiful setting of the Corniche area of Jeddah, facing the majestic Red Sea. They gave a cheerful send off to the competitors.
Paulo’s wealth of experience, Buhler’s youthful exuberance, JRod’s focus and CS Santosh’s intensity strikes the right balance for exciting prospects at the Dakar 2020, riding on the back of some strong performances, intense training sessions and a battle-tested Hero 450 RR. These riders will be ably supported by an experienced assistance crew.
Having completed all the administrative and technical checks successfully, the team is now raring to kick start their Dakar 2020 campaign with the first stage on 5th January that will take the riders from Jeddah to Al Wajh with a 319 km special stage and a total run of 752 kms including the liaisons.
Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “We are quite excited to be at Dakar 2020 for our 4th year now. For this new adventure in a completely new continent and terrain, we also have an exciting new combination of riders with Paulo, a Dakar legend in our ranks on one hand and an exciting young prospect in 25-year-old Sebastian Buhler on the other, who has already achieved a Top 20 finish in the last year’s Dakar. For Buhler, it was fortunate as the two time Top 10 finisher for the team, Oriol Mena, was forced to sit out of this Dakar due to injury. Joaquim has also completed his recovery now, coming back strongly to win the Pan Africa Rally while Santosh also recorded his best ever performance with a 5th place finish in the same rally. So, the team has been shaping up really well both mentally and physically and we are in a very positive frame of mind for this Dakar. We can never predict an outcome in the Dakar, especially this year as it’s a new environment for all the teams, so our first aim still remains to get the riders and bikes safely across the finish line every day.”
Paulo Goncalves (Comp No. 8) said, “I am really excited to be a part of this new chapter of Dakar. I have had the privilege of racing in two continents with the Dakar, and now coming to the 3rd continent of Asia. I feel honoured and blessed to be able to do this. We have had really good preparations; the team has bonded like a family and that’s a very good thing for us. I am very happy with my Hero 450RR and quite confident about our prospects. In the end, the first job of any rider is to bring the bike home and that’s what I will be focusing on. It is a new challenge for everyone so patience and having cool heads is going to be the key here. Looking forward to my first Dakar with Hero MotoSports Team Rally!”
Joaquim Rodrigues (Comp No. 27) said, “It’s a completely new challenge and I am quite excited about it. My recovery has been good and I am back to 100% so that’s a really good feeling to have. I had a good last season, got some good experience under my belt and the win at the Pan Africa Rally boosted my confidence. We have really come together as a team in the last season with Paulo coming on board. I am quite happy with our preparations and the bike is looking good too, so we are in a good place. I am going to do my best to get my Hero bike home every day.”
CS Santosh (Comp No: 50) said, “I am quite kicked about this all-new adventure that the Dakar 2020 is offering. It’s going to be tough and from the first impressions we have got, the navigation is going to play a key role here. I have worked hard on my navigation throughout last season and my speed has also improved a few notches. I am feeling quite confident and well prepared for the new challenge. We have got a really good team bonding going on and Paulo has been sharing a lot experience with all of us so it has really helped. I could not finish the last Dakar so I am going to try and finish what I started last time.”
Sebastian Buhler (Comp No: 32) said, “It’s going to be my first time racing with Hero MotoSports Team Rally and I am really happy to be a part of this team. We have a great environment within the team and I have learnt so much from all these guys. To be able to ride and work with these guys and Dakar legend Paulo, for a young rider like me, that’s a great opportunity and I am trying to make the most of it. My focus is to get as much experience out of this opportunity and try to get to the finish line in every stage.”