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Afriquia Merzouga Rally: Hero MotoSports Team gears up for 1st Dakar Series race

Hero MotoSports Team Rally will field a full strength team – CS Santosh and Joaquim Rodrigues.

IANS | New Delhi |

Hero MotoSports Team Rally is gearing up for the Dakar 2018, with the first Dakar Series race, Afriquia Merzouga Rally, which will be held from May 7-12 in Morocco.

Close on the heels of back-to-back impressive performances — Dakar in January, podium finish at the Desert Storm in February and victory at the India Baja in April — the team is set to take its winning momentum to the Merzouga Rally, according to a release.

Making its second consecutive appearance at Afriquia Merzouga, Hero MotoSports Team Rally will field a full strength team, with both the riders — Indian ace CS Santosh and Portuguese supercross star Joaquim Rodrigues.

While Santosh will make a much-awaited comeback to rally racing, after missing the India Baja, his co-rider Rodrigues will look to building on his winning momentum from the India Baja, which took place in Rajasthan in April.

Rodrigues said: "It has been a great start to the year. The recent victory at the India BAJA Rally has given me a fresh boost of energy and I am really excited to be back at the Merzouga Rally. I am happy with my recent performances and hoping for a good result here as well.

Running under the aegis of the Dakar Series since 2016, the eighth edition of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally will involve six days of racing in south-east Morocco, including 1,200 kms of fully off-road specials. This year, 145 vehicles (88 bikes, 23 quads and 34 SidebySide) for a total of 178 competitors will be starting the Rally.

Santosh said: "I have made immense progress in the past couple of months and I am glad to be back here with the team. I have been training with some great people and working on all the aspects, be it body or mind or motorcycles. 

"However, I am going into the Merzouga Rally with the expectation of learning and having a great time being back to racing on my bike."