Hero MotoSports completes the 2022 Dakar with a victory and a podium finish
Stage 12 of the 2022 Dakar has ended and this also marks the end of the 14 days rally. Hero MotoSports created history at Dakar by becoming the first ever Indian Manufacturer to win a stage. This was the team’s sixth consecutive appearance at the rally. Stage 12 was a 679km ride from Bisha to Jeddah, with only a 163km special section. After the stage ended, Hero MotoSports rider Joaquim Rodrigues finished P14 and Aaron Mare finished P16 in the overall standings. The Hero Rally 450 bike also completed the rally with no technical failures. Moreover, Dakar 2022 was the most competitive edition ever with 12 grueling stages and over 8000 kilometers in total distance.
Even though the 2022 Dakar ended on a high note for the team, it did not start the same way. As the Dakar week was approaching, Hero MotoSports were hit with a few sad news. Their riders Sebastian Buhler and Franco Caimi were injured and could not participate in the rally. As CS Santosh was also recovering from an injury, Hero was having troubles finding a replacement rider. Thankfully, Aaron Mare showed up and with his consistent ride through the rally, he proved his mettle.
For JRod, who lost his brother-in-law and mentor Paulo Goncalves two years back at the Dakar, walking back into the same event each year has been a battle with himself. He delivered his best ever performance at the Dakar, bagging his maiden stage win and also a P3 stage finish, which he dedicated to his mentor.
This is what J-Rod said after the stage, “Extremely happy to be here! I’m really happy with my performance – it was a great Dakar for me and for the team. With the fantastic performance of the Hero Rally 450, we’re together now fighting for the top positions. My win this time is definitely the cherry on the top for me, and I can’t express how happy I am for myself and for the team to have finished yet another Dakar!”
Aaron had a great 2022 Dakar. He was chosen at the last minute to fill up the gap in the Hero MotoSports stables. But despite his lack of experience with the Hero Rally 450 bike, he was on pace with the rivals around and in the end, he only finished two places below J-Rod. On top of that, the gap was just over thirty minutes in the overall timesheet.
After the stage Aaron expressed, “I’m beyond happy, it’s a dream come true! It’s been the longest 163 kms of my life in the last stage. It’s the end of a successful Dakar. I took it easy today, riding smooth and avoiding any mistakes or crashes. It’s been an overwhelming experience for me, and I’m very grateful to Hero MotoSports Team Rally for their confidence in me, and for all the hard work they’ve put in.”
At the end of the rally, Team Manager Wolfgang Fischer said, “What a Dakar, after all the struggles we had a few weeks before the start! We are really proud of the performance of our riders, bikes and the team - a superb job done. The highlight was definitely the maiden Dakar stage victory for JRod and Hero MotoSports, underlined with a very strong third place at the hardest and most competitive, stage 11. Our last-minute entry Aaron did a perfect job, adapting seamlessly with the team, and keeping a cool head always, he proved to be a fast learner and team player. The Dakar Rally was the most competitive ever, with seven manufacturer teams fighting for the top prize, and only 1:30 hrs dividing the top 15 after the 4000-race kilometers. It was a bit unfortunate for JRod to lose over 50 mins at the initial phase of the rally, preventing us from gaining more top positions in the overall tally. With zero technical problems and a total of eight top-10 results in the new RallyGP class of this Dakar, we look forward to the next W2RC race in Abu Dhabi in March, and the soonest return of our mates Basti and Franco. Thanks to the Hero family and all our partners who contributed to our success story - to be continued!”
The team will next be seen in action at the second race of the year under the FIM World Rally Raid Championship, at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in March 2022.