Dakar 2021: Mixed bag for Hero MotoSports Team Rally in Stage 3
While C S Santosh gained two spots, JRod dropped two, and Buhler retained his place in the overall standings
Stage 3 of the 2021 Dakar rally featured a lot of jumps and sand dunes, where the Hero 450 Rally bike rose to the occasion once again to perform flawlessly. The Hero MotoSports Team Rally, too, did its best to stay consistent. Despite dropping from P14 to P21 in the stage, Sebastian Buhler retained his overall position at P24. Meanwhile, Joaquim Rodrigues lost eight places in the stage, dropping to to P20 in the stage, a loss of two spots in the overall standings. Lastly, C S Santosh, who finished P36 in the stage, gained two places to move up to P34 in the overall standings. However, with two riders consistently staying in the top 25, the team believes to be in a good place at this point in the rally, with regards to overall standing.
His two-place gain in proceedings has helped C S Santosh’s confidence. Since the prologue of the 2021 Dakar, he has been gradually climbing up in the rankings and should this consistent performance continue, he might just be looking at his best Dakar performance yet. A satisfied C S Santosh said, "Today was another long and fast stage. It was mostly about sitting back and opening the full throttle. Because of the wind, the visibility was not that great, so it was tough to go full gas all the way. It wasn’t very enjoyable for me but I am happy to have put in a good stage today and also probably the best three days in the Dakar for me so far."
On the other hand, JRod said that the stage was "lonely" as he was riding alone for most of it. That led him to slow down and focus more on navigating and finishing the stage safely. Sebastian Buhler was happy about the way the bike perfomed and about the progress the team made over the stage. Since the rally is still in its early stages, all three drivers seem to focus mainly on bringing the bike home safely on a daily basis and being consistent in their overall rankings.
Stage 4 will take the rally from Wadi Ad-Dawasir to Riyadh in what will be the longest stage of the 2021 Dakar Rally with a total of 813km including a timed 337km special stage. Since it is the longest stage of the event, the terrain is believed to not be as technical and punishing as the ones in the shorter stages. However, the riders do not have the luxury of going out there assuming that it will be easy. It is the Dakar, after all.