After having announced their signing of CS Santosh as part of their rally team, Hero Motosports today announced their intention to take part in the 2017 Dakar rally. The team will be fielding two motorcycles with CS Santosh piloting the first and Joaquim Rodrigues piloting the second. Both riders will be using motorcycles built by Speedbrain.
CS Santosh is no stranger to cross country rallying, having competed in the Dakar rally for two years already. He is India's premier off-road motorcycle racer and has won almost all the motocross and supercross championships in the country. He has also won the Desert Storm, Raid de Himalaya and Baja India in the recent past. He is not new to the Dakar and has already ridden in the rally twice, one of which he managed to finish the extremely gruelling rally. His teammate is Joaquim Rodrigues, an off-road motorcycle racer from Portugal. Rodrigues is still new to cross country rallying and the Dakar will only be his third ever rally.
Both the riders will be riding motorcycles built by Speedbrain - the German company that specialised in off-road rally motorcycles. The company has a long history in off-road rallying and has been at the Dakar for well over a decade. The motorcycle they have built for the Dakar is a 450cc liquid cooled single that is said to make roughly 50PS of power. Keeping the long distances in mind, the motorcycle gets a main and an auxiliary fuel tank to boost range. In comparison to motocross and enduro bikes, the suspension is set up stiffer to cope with the high top speeds these motorcycles do. At 170kg, it is also heavier than most enduro bikes. Both motorcycles were also showcased at the event at their R&D centre - Hero Centre for Innovation and Technology, Jaipur.
Markus Braunsperger, CTO - Hero Motocorp said that the focus this year is to finish the rally and get both riders back home safely. Of course, they will start looking at winning in the future, but the plan is to get better step by step. He also said that Hero Motosports will right now only focus on Team Rally. They want to excel in one discipline first before expanding their motorsports portfolio.
CS Santosh, Hero MotoSports Team Rally pilot said, We are absolutely proud to carry the tricolor of India to Dakar Rally 2017. This year will be a completely different experience for me, as I am a going to participate as a member of the world-class factory team. After a great first qualifier, we are now charged-up for the Oilibya Rally in October. Hero MotoSports Team Rally has all the traits of a champion team and I am hopeful that we will put-up a great show at the Dakar next year."