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Dakar 2020: Hero Motosports' Paulo Goncalves ranked 14th after Stage 2

Team OD  | Updated: January 06, 2020, 10:50 PM IST

The second stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia took competitors from Al Wajh to Neom, with a special stage distance of 367km. The stage proved to be extremely challenging for the riders, with rocky terrain making the riding tricky, not to mention the dust which made visibility near impossible in certain places. Despite this, all four riders of the Hero MotoSports Team Rally outfit managed to bring their motorcycles back home unscathed at the end of the day.

14th overall after two stages of the 2020 Dakar for Paulo Goncalves

Continuing to lead the way for the Indian squad was Paulo "Speedy" Goncalves. The Portuguese rider, who has in the past finished 2nd overall in the Dakar, managed to finish the stage in 12th position. This puts him 14th overall in the standings at the end of the second stage of the Dakar. For Goncalves, who is an 'Elite' rider (a rider who has finished in the Top 10 at the Dakar in the past, or has at least won a stage, not including the prologue, in the past few years) it was also the first part of the super marathon stage today. This meant that he had ten minutes to work on his bike before depositing it at Parc Ferme for the evening. He will continue on the second half of the super marathon stage tomorrow.

Speaking of the stage Goncalves said, "I arrived without any issue with the bike so we are in a good shape to finish the second part of the super marathon tomorrow. I tried to ride safe today especially this being the marathon stage but I have a good feeling with the bike so we are in a good place at the moment. I will try to increase my pace day by day without making mistakes to get the team to a good finish."

Sebastian Buhler is currently ranked 25th overall after Stage 2 of Dakar 2020

Sebastian Buhler, who replaced the injured Oriol Mena at the Dakar this year, also had a solid stage. The German rider managed to finish the stage 21st, which puts him 25th overall after two stages in the Dakar. Given the fact that dust hampered his visibility Buhler said, "There was a lot of dust today making it more difficult to ride. I started with another rider so it's very difficult to overtake in dust but I hope to start a bit in the front in the coming stages so that I can out ride this dust and gain some time."

Indian rider CS Santosh probably wished for a slightly easier start to his sixth Dakar. Santosh, who crashed yesterday and injured his hand, had to ride with an injured hand. The fact that the stage was rocky in parts meant that it was really hard for him to ride fast today. Santosh fought through the pain and managed to finish the stage 53rd, which moves him to 48th overall. From OVERDRIVE's conversations with members of the Hero MotoSports squad, it appears that while Santosh's hand isn't broken, there is some cause for concern by way of a blood clot that hasn't yet disappeared. However the team appears confident that he will recover and put in a strong performance over the rest of the rally.

Gritty performance from CS Santosh who had to ride with an injured hand. He is ranked 48th after Stage 2 of Dakar 2020.

Santosh admitted that the day had been extremely hard for him saying, "It was a really difficult day for me with all this pain in my hand from yesterday's crash. The stage was really rocky and all the impact was coming onto my hand making it really difficult to hold the bike. I will get this checked now and hopefully will have a better stage tomorrow."

Joaquim Rodrigues, who was unable to complete yesterday's stage, was able to restart today under the "Wild Card" rules. He managed to finish the stage 48th, but won't be included in the overall rankings.

For Stage 3 of the Dakar, competitors will do another loop around the city of Neom, covering 404km of special stage. This includes the highest section of Dakar 2020 at an altitude of 1400m.

Provisional Stage 2 Rankings
1. Ross Branch, Bas Dakar KTM Racing Team, 03h 39m 10s
2. Sam Sunderland, RedBull KTM Racing, +01m 24s
3. Pablo Quintanilla, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, +02m 21s
12. Paulo Goncalves, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +09m 32s
21. Sebastian Buhler, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +20m 03s
48. Joaquim Rodrigues, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +55m10s
53. C S Santosh, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +01h 20m 34s

Provisional Overall Rankings
1. Sam Sunderland, RedBull KTM Racing Team, 07h 05m 22s
2. Pablo Quintanilla, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, +01m 18s
3. Kevin Benavides, Monster Energy Honda, +01m 32s
14. Paulo Goncalves, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +13m 10s
25. Sebastian Buhler, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +48m 37s
48. C S Santosh, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +01h 57m 52s

Read about how Hero MotoSports Team Rally fared in Stage 1 of the Dakar 2020 here. 

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