The third stage of the ongoing Afriquia Merzouga Rally in Morocco proved to be difficult for riders when a desert storm passed across the rally, during the second half of the stage. The storm lasted for only about 30 minutes but was enough to complicate matters for the riders and the organizers.
The third stage was relatively shorter and took riders around in twin loops of Erfoud – bigger loop accounting for 112 Km and the inner loop adding another 63 km to make up the total of 175 kms.
Joaquim Rodrigues started the stage well, but a puncture in the bike’s cooling system forced him to stop to fix the leaking coolant, making him loose time in the process. However, things got worse for him as he found himself caught in the middle of the sand storm, forcing him to stop in the middle of his run, while the other riders had already passed the finish line. He finished the day at 23rdplace.
The stage proved testing for Santosh as well, as he struggled with a malfunction in his roadbook equipment causing him a delay in finishing the 1st loop. The 2nd loop turned out to be much better for Santosh as he rode through the small dunes with ease until he too got caught in the storm just a few kms before the stage finish. Santosh finished the day at 17th position.
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “ I was feeling really good at the start of the stage and tried to catch the guys in front of me. But then my bike started losing water because of a puncture in the cooling system. I managed to finish the 1st loop somehow. The team fixed the issue and I started the 2nd loop well only to get caught in a big sand storm. I had to stop in the beginning as I couldn’t see anything but then I started again, driving at a very slow speed of 5km/hr to bring the bike home safely. It was really hard to navigate in the storm but in the end I am happy to be back safely.
C S Santosh, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “Today was going to be a relatively short day with just 2 stages and a lot of navigation. I started the stage really well and I was able to catch the rider in front but then a malfunction happened in the remote that controls the road book and the echo to the odometer. It was a bad 1st part of the stage for me. Team fixed the issue at the stage break and 2nd loop was good for me until I got caught in the storm for the last 4 km or so. Overall I rode well today but lost some time. I am now looking forward to the marathon stage.”