Image Gallery: Hero MotoSports Team Rally at the Dakar
Back in 2017, Hero MotoSports Team Rally took on the challenge of the gruelling Dakar Rally. They recruited CS Santosh, India's best-known off-road rally-raid rider, who already had two Dakars behind him. And, as a team-mate, Santosh had Joaquim "J-Rod" Rodrigues, experienced motocross and supercross rider. As things would turn out, Santosh would end his third attempt at the Dakar 47th, while J-Rod would end the rally as the second-best rookie with a 10th place finish.
In 2018, the team would add a third rider to their roster - Oriol Mena. The Spanish rider would finish his first ever Dakar in seventh place - the highest placed rookie rider. Santosh would end the Dakar in 34th - his best finishing position at the rally since he made his debut in 2015 (as a privateer). Unfortunately for J-Rod, an accident on the second stage would truncate his rally, and leave him recovering from injuries for most of the season.
In 2019, Hero heads to the Dakar with all three riders - CS Santosh, J-Rod, and Oriol Mena - eager to tackle the dunes in Peru. Here's a look back at the previous editions of the Dakar Rally, as a quick recap of all that the team has been through in the past.
Wolfgang Fischer and CS Santosh smile here at the end of the Dakar. But during the rally itself, those smiles give way to furrowed brows and frowns of concentration
J-Rod tackling the dunes in Peru with aplomb. The Dakar involves long hours of riding in the desert - it can sometimes be disorienting
Riders J-Rod and Santosh fuelling up - the meals the riders eat before leaving for a stage at 4am, have to keep them going till the end of the day's riding
CS Santosh giving it his all at the 2017 Dakar - his first attempt at the event as a factory rider, having been recruited by Hero MotoSports Team Rally
The second stage of the rally in 2017: J-Rod pictured here going flat out
A lot of standing up while riding those Dakar behemoths, as demonstrated by CS Santosh during Dakar 2017
... And by team-mate J-Rod too!
The terrain of the Dakar is ever changing, as can be seen in Stage 3 of the 2017 edition. From dunes, to fesh fesh, to rocky surfaces - it has it all
Navigation plays a critical rule during the Dakar. For long hours, it's just a man and a motorcycle - like Santosh and his Hero Rally 450 as seen here
At Dakar 2017, Joaquim Rodrigues managed to take an impressive 10th place overall after Stage 8. It was a sign of things to come
All smiles from the Hero crew at the end of the 2017 Dakar in Argentina
CS Santosh greets his fans in Buenos Aires
Santosh poring over that all important road book - the true companion of the riders in the Dakar
A moment of much-needed peace and solitude at the 2017 Dakar for CS Santosh
In 2018, Oriol Mena joined the Hero MotoSports Team Rally outfit for his rookie attempt at the Dakar
CS Santosh poses astride the motorcycle that he would pilot at Dakar 2018, while Dr Markus Braunsperger, CTO, Hero MotoCorp, looks on with a smile
CS Santosh on his way to the podium for the flag off of Dakar 2018
CS Santosh waves at the crowd before taking to the podium for the ceremonial start of Dakar 2018
After the first stage of the 2018 Dakar, CS Santosh spoke to us of how despite his performance in the first stage, he was aware that the going would only get tougher
The Hero MotoSports Team Rally physio - Claire - working on sorting out any muscle pain and strain Santosh might have suffered after Stage 2 of Dakar 2018
Santosh riding through Stage 3 of Dakar 2018 that headed from Pisco to San Juan
CS Santosh airborne through a stage during the 2019 Dakar
Oriol Mena rode the 2017 Dakar machine at the 2018 edition of the event. Didn't stop him from performing spectacularly well at the event though!
CS Santosh on Stage 11 at the 2018 Dakar - look at the snow-capped mountains in Argentina in the background
All smiles despite looking like he had a little bit of a tumble at the Dakar 2018. With good reason too - Santosh had a career-best finishing position at the Dakar after ending the rally 34th overall
An even wider grin from rookie Oriol Mena after finishing the 2018 Dakar in seventh position overall
The Hero MotoSports Team Rally outfit celebrating their Dakar 2018 success
One of the few photos we have of J-Rod during Dakar 2018. He crashed and injured his spine soon after this photo was taken. But better luck awaits him in 2019, we hope!