Cordoba (Argentina), January 21: Rookie Oriol Mena finished seventh while top Indian biker C S Santosh brought up his best ever performance as Hero MotoSports team dished out a memorable show in the gruelling Dakar Rally which concluded here.
Big congratulations to the entire @hero_motosports team for such great results; Mena in 7th best rookie performer of the year and the ever impressive super steady @cs_santosh22 finishing in 34th- his best @dakar despite 2 major incidents pic.twitter.com/fL1HtrVrfW— Rishad Cooper (@rishadcooper) January 21, 2018
Spaniard Mena impressed everyone and finished at an outstanding seventh position in his debut Dakar Rally. Delivering consistent top 10 stages towards the end of the rally, while everyone was getting tired, Mena showed his tremendous skill, stamina and his ability to learn fast. He was fittingly adjudged the 'Best Rookie Rider' of the Rally.
The Dakar is the ultimate test of man & machine especially when he is on two-wheels n has to race & navigate himself. As such hats off to our very own @cs_santosh22 for completing all three Dakars he has tackled including this year’s character building event! @FastBikesIndia pic.twitter.com/gfPveeyevg— ADIL DARUKHANAWALA (@adiljal) January 21, 2018
Santosh, on the other hand, became the first and the only Indian rider to have finished the Dakar Rally thrice. More significantly, he achieved his best performance, finishing the rally at 35th position. The 34-year-old Bengaluru rider was in his fourth year in the Dakar Rally and second year with the Hero Motosports.
It was a remarkable achievement for the Hero MotoSports team to have both its riders finishing the rally in only its second year in a competition which is considered the toughest in the world.
Hard work pays off💪🏻— C J Santosh Kumar (@cjsantosh) January 20, 2018
Brilliant performance from @hero_motosports riders at Dakar 2018
Congrats @cs_santosh22 on becoming only Indian 🇮🇳 to finishes the @dakar thrice & @OriolMena what debut it was💪🏻#HeroatDakar #Dakar2018 #RaceTheLimits pic.twitter.com/shYC6Pdokv
The Rally crossed three countries -- Peru, Bolivia and Argentina -- during its nearly 9000 km journey which spanned 14 stages and as many days. Hero MotoSports team is fast gaining a reputation for bringing in top class debutants to the Rally every year. If it was the 12th place finish of Joaquim Rodrigues last year, it was Mena's turn this year to better the result.
Give it up for @hero_motosports boys @ #Dakar2018 . Despite losing their lead rider right at start they’ve finished 7th overall with their rookie rider Mena. And our man @cs_santosh22 🙌🙌🙌 has taken his best even #Dakar finish in 35th overall. Much much respect— Sirish Chandran (@SirishChandran) January 21, 2018
✊️ 💨💨💨 pic.twitter.com/doNVdZfPYR
"I am really happy with my results. I enjoyed the Dakar a lot. The last stage felt the longest, as I approached the finish line. But I am now at the finish line and also having won in the rookie class, I feel elated. It's a real good result and what can I say, dreams do come true," Mena said.
"It was as tough Dakar this year for sure, every day you had to bow down to the stages. I had lots of ups and downs, some high points in the beginning, and then some lows as well. I think it was everything that you would envision a Dakar to be. I am happy to make it to the finish line of yet another Dakar. My best Dakar so far so I am really happy to be going home with that," Santosh said.
Team Manager Wolfgang Fischer conceded this year's Dakar was the toughest but expressed happiness at the fact that both his riders finished the rally. "This year was our toughest Dakar experience so far. It did not start well with the accident of Joaquim Rodrigues and then our other riders facing difficulties in the tough Peru stages. But finally, witnessing Mena and CS making it to the finish line is a joy," he said.
"CS getting his best-ever result in the toughest Dakar is an achievement we are really proud of. For Oriol, it was a big accomplishment to finish in the top 10. He kept going up the rankings in the second half of the Rally, which gives me a lot of confidence for the team's future. Compliments to the entire team and thanks and regards to our fans. It's a fantastic feeling at the moment."
Meanwhile, Matthias Walkner of Redbull KTM Racing team won the race among bikers, followed Kevin Benavides (Monster Energy Honda) and Toby Price (Redbull KTM Racing).
Third time's the charm. @CSSantosh is now the only Indian 🇮🇳 rider to have finished the @dakar thrice, delivering his best performance ever. #HeroatDakar #Dakar2018 #RaceTheLimits pic.twitter.com/aNfdUY5Olo— Hero MotoSports (@hero_motosports) January 20, 2018