Merzouga Bikes, Stage 2: Rodrigues maintains Hero lead, Svitko still on top
Joaquim Rodrigues consolidated his position as the top Hero MotoSports rider following the conclusion of the second stage of Merzouga Rally, with CS Santosh breaking into the top 20.
The second stage consisted of two separate specials, each posing a different kind of a challenge for the competitors.
The first special was held in the sand dunes of Merzouga, while the second one was run over the plateau between Boudnib and Er Rachidia.
In all, riders completed a total distance of 521 km, out of which 181 km was timed.
Rodrigues, who was handed a 30-minute penalty for missing a waypoint yesterday, finished the second stage with a time of 5hr18m20s.
The Portuguese rider crossing Stage 2 at 11th, about four seconds off 10th place, stayed in 11th place in the overall standings.
"It was better than Monday,’’ he said. “I didn't really get lost and finished the race pretty good. I'm happy because with each stage I understand better how this rally thing works.”
Meanwhile, Santosh enjoyed far better fortunes thanks to improvements in navigation, something the Indian has identified as one of his major weak points.
The Bangalore-based rider finished the second stage 23rd quickest on Tuesday with a time of 5hr41m44s.
Having finished 24th in the overall standings on Monday, the Indian broke into the top 20 ending 18th, one-hour 45 minutes behind early-rally leader KTM's Stefan Svitko.
"Tuesday was one of the longest days of the rally," Santosh said. "My navigation was good in the dunes. I paid close attention to the roadbook and that went alright.”
“I got a little lost on two occasion, but the overall feeling remains very positive."
Up ahead, KTM's Gerard Farres Guell set the fastest time of the second stage, 1m33s quicker than Svitko, who continues to lead the overall standings.
The two are now separated by 3m37s, chased by the leading Yamaha of Adrien van Beveren in third heading into the marathon stage on Wednesday.
Merzouga Bikes, Stage 1: Rodrigues ends as lead Hero rider, Svitko tops
Merzouga Bikes, Stage 3: Rodrigues in top 10 as Svitko leads after desert storm hit