Merzouga Bikes, Stage 3: Rodrigues in top 10 as Svitko leads after desert storm hit
Hero MotoSport riders continued to make progress in stage three of Merzouga Rally, which was shortened due to a desert storm hitting Morocco.
The stage three marked the start of a two-day marathon where competitors are left on their own as far as servicing is concerned.
The stage originally consisted of a 223 km timed section, mostly on sandy off-piste terrain.
However, due to deteriorating weather conditions it was decided to stop the rally at the second checkpoint to ensure safety of competitors.
Amid difficult weather conditions, Hero MotoSport rider Joaquim Rodrigues suffered a minor crash, which lost him crucial time.
However, Rodrigues was able to make it to the very end of the stage, recovering some lost ground in the process to finish 11th.
The Portuguese rider now stands 10th in the overall standings, about 11 minutes behind ninth-placed Ruben Faria.
Meanwhile, CS Santosh continued to enjoy a fruitful maiden outing in Merzouga Rally, finishing a strong 15th with a time of 4hr41m12s.
However, the Indian has dropped to 19th in the overall standings, still maintaining his top 20 momentum.
At the front, Honda’s Kevin Benavides topped stage three to move up to third in the standings, behind rally leader Stefan Svitko and stage two winner Helder Rodrigues.
Svitko and Rodrigues are separated by just 1m37s heading into the second marathon stage on Thursday.
Merzouga Bikes, Stage 2: Rodrigues maintains Hero lead, Svitko still on top
Merzouga Bikes, Stage 4: Hero's Rodrigues improves as Benavides takes lead