Hero MotoSport riders grab fourth, fifth and eight place at 2021 Andalucia Rally
The 2021 Andalucia Rally concluded with Hero MotoSport team riders Joaquim Rodrigues and Franco Caimi finishing at P4 and P5 respectively, with Sebastian Buhler securing P8 in the overall rankings. This was the team's second outing of the year, the first being the grueling 2021 Dakar Rally. It was Franco Caimi's maiden rally after being signed on by the team earlier this month, replacingIndian rider C S Santosh, who is recovering from his crash at the Dakar. The 2021 Andalucia Rally was won overall by Joan Barreda of the Monster Energy Honda Team.
The 2021 Andalucia Rally commenced on May 12 with the eight kilometer long prologue stage, which was dominated by Team Hero MotoSports, with rider JRod securing P1 in a time of 06:13 minutes, followed by Monster Energy Honda Team's Joan Barreda in P2, while Sebastian Buhler took P3 and Franco Caimi P4 with a time difference of two and five seconds respectively.
Up next, was the 257km Stage 1, which consisted of medium fast tracks. The day ended with Buhler in P3, 42 seconds behind the leader Joan Barreda who clocked a time of 02hr 12m 46s and Caimi in P4, 01m 34s behind Barreda. Due to low visibility during the start of the stage, JRod committed a navigation mistake and lost his way which led him to eventually lose time and finish at P9.
The longest stage of the rally was Stage 2 with a total of 339km of special stages. JRod took the lead quickly, learning from the navigation errors he made in the previous day. He finished in P2, 32 seconds behind Lorenzo Santolino of the Sherco Factory Rally Team who took first place with a time of 03h 27m 44s. Buhler and Caimi followed in P5 and P6 respectively with a time difference of 05m 30s and 06m 58s behind the leader Lorenzo.
Stage 3 ran for 298km. Dubbed as "The Marathon", nearly all of it was done in a single go, similar to the stages on Dakar. At the end of Stage 3, JRod found himself in P2, 2m 56s behind winner Barreda who achieved a time of 02h 54m 51s. A navigation error cost Buhler some time yet he finished in P4, 06m 23s behind, while Caimi finished at P8, with a time difference of 09m 35s, as he had a more challenging time getting used to the new settings on his bike.
The fourth and final stage of the rally took a toll on JRod. He crashed a couple of times, losing the chance of grabbing a podium again, but brought the bike home in seventh position with a time of 02hr 12m 45s. Buhler, who received a 15-minute penalty on the previous day, because of an engine change, finished Stage 4 in fourth place and turned out to be the team's fastest rider of the day with a time of 02hr 11m 00s. Caimi ended the day in fifth place with a time of 02hr 11m 55s, just 55 seconds off from his teammate. The final stage was again dominated by Joan Barreda of Monster Energy Honda Team, who came first, followed by Lorenzo Santolino of Sherco Factory Rally Team and Pablo Quintanilla of Team Honda again, giving them two reasons to celebrate at the end of the day.
With a strong and consistent performance from all the three riders and ending the 2021 Andalucia Rally on a strong note, Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, said: “This has been a great start to our season. We tested some new configurations in the bike and also in the team. I am very happy that we have a lot of positives to take home. It was great to see JRod back among the top positions, while Buhler was very impressive with his consistency and in Caimi, we have another top contender bringing fresh energy into the team. The bike has also performed really well and supported the riders to fight for the top positions, so all in all, I think we have a very good combination. Now we look to build on this further in the next rallies. Last but not the least, we want to express our thanks to everyone back in the Hero family and our supporters across the world. This is a tough time for all of us and we urge you to keep safe.”
Next on the calendar for Hero MotoSports Team Rally is the Kazakhstan Rally which is scheduled to take place from June 7-13.