Merzouga Bikes, Stage 1: Rodrigues ends as lead Hero rider, Svitko tops
Joaquim Rodrigues ended as the lead Hero MotoSports Rally team rider after the first stage of the Merzouga Rally in Morocco.
Rodrigues started the day from eighth after finishing 0.13s off the Prologue leader Kevin Benavides in the Honda, on Sunday.
In the same event, India's CS Santosh was 15th in the list as the top 27 were covered within the second of Benavides, among the 73 starters in the Pro Rally category.
Santosh was the first rider on Tuesday to start the Stage 1 and posted the quickest time crossing the DSS.
The Indian then faced some navigational challenges to end the first stage 17th, 56.25s behind the leader Stefan Svitko (KTM).
Santosh thus was 24th overall, admitted to being nervous at the start. "I was a bit nervous opening the track. But the team told me to go ahead and be confident.
"I had a good feeling, then I started to make some small mistakes. I finally found someone who handled the navigation very well, that helped me and I brought it home," he explained.
Teammate Rodrigues had a better day on his competitive rally debut, finishing 10th in Stage 1, 23.32s behind Svitko.
The Portuguese was happy with the days proceedings after finishing 11th in overall standings, he said: "I didn't make too many mistakes, just one at a checkpoint.
"It is really difficult with the navigation and it is pretty hot out here. I'm happy to finish the way I did, it was a good experience," he added.
Up ahead, Svitko leads the way at the end of Day 1, ahead of Yamaha duo Helder Rodrigues and Adrien van Beveren as prologue leader Benavides dropped to fifth.
Al-Attiyah wins Rally Morocco, Hirvonen makes top five
Merzouga Bikes, Stage 2: Rodrigues maintains Hero lead, Svitko still on top