Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motorsports team of Hero MotoCorp, has announced the squad for the Dakar Rally 2020. India's ace rider CS Santosh, will be part of the team, along with 2019 Pan Africa Rally winner Joaquim Rodrigues, Dakar Rookie of the Year 2017 Oriol Mena, and the newest addition, Former World Rally Champion Paulo Goncalves. This is the first time Hero MotoSports Team Rally will take on the Dakar Rally with a four-member squad. Established in 2016, with just three Dakar rallies, Hero MotoSports Team Rally has two back-to-back top 10 Dakar finishes and a 100 per cent arrival rate for the machines.
Announcing the team, Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, said, "We have had a good year so far and we want to close it on a high with a strong performance at the Dakar 2020. The preparations for the Team have been good and all riders are in good shape. The bikes have also been performing without any glitches. Now we will enter the last phase of our preparations before heading to the Dakar at a new destination, Saudi Arabia. It will be a new challenge for everyone. We are determined to compete well and improve our results this year."
The 42nd edition of the Dakar Rally will be held in Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2020. Starting in Jeddah on January 5, 2020, the Rally will conclude 12 stages later in Qiddiyah near the Saudi capital of Riyadh, covering a total distance of close to 7,900 km. Over 5,000 km of the entire rally will include special stages for the competitors. The first half of the 2020 Dakar Rally will take the participants through a labyrinth of tracks where navigation skills will be essential, followed by the Saudi Arabian dunes in the second half of the rally.
Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said: "I can feel the difference between this year and the last. I feel much fitter and that has reflected in my performances also. The Team has had an exceptional 'Road to Dakar' this season with podium finishes and of course the win at Pan Africa Rally. We have been training particularly hard with a focus on delivering a good performance and I look forward to an exciting Dakar in 2020."
CS Santosh, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, "This season of Dakar is a comeback for me after the crash last year. I am confident of the preparations and good momentum built through the year with strong performances, including the first-ever Top 5 finish in an International Rally (Pan Africa Rally) for me. I look forward to delivering a solid performance, enjoy the process and arrive at the finish line."
Oriol Mena, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said: "I am getting back to the competitive rally racing after the accident during training session in Maroc recently. I am entering the toughest race of the calendar with a cautious outlook and a target to cross the finish line safely at Dakar 2020."
Paulo Goncalves, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, "Representing Hero Motosports Team Rally has been very exciting for me and I am very happy to join this promising team. The initial couple of outings with the Team during Silkway Rally and Rally Du Maroc have been very encouraging and full of exciting possibilities. The whole team is focused on better results this year and pre-season testing has been very positive. So, I'm feeling strong for this season and I hope we make history together."
Hero MotoCorp entered international motorsports with the formation of its rally racing team, 'Hero MotoSports Team Rally' in 2016. The Team has already demonstrated immense promise with impressive performances across the world, participating in rallies across four continents - Silkway Rally in Russia, Mongolia and China, BAJA India and Desert Storm in India (Asia), Merzouga, Olibiya and Pan Africa in Morocco (Africa), Baja Spain (Europe) and Atacama Rally in Chile and Desafio Inca and Dakar Rally (South America).