The third stage of the 2019 Afriquia Merzouga Rally entered its first day of the marathon run with the riders completing 230 km. The first half of the stage concluded with Hero riders Joaquim Rodrigues and Oriol Mena finishing in second and third place respectively. Rodrigues completed the day 02m23s over the stage leader Adrien Van Beveren of Yamaha Racing, while Mena was 03m08s behind Beveren. In overall rankings too, Rodrigues and Mena stand at second and third place, promising a podium finish for the team at the end of the rally.
Speaking on his performance, Hero rider, Oriol Mena said, "I had a really good day. Made no mistakes and got into a very nice rhythm. For a good 50km, I was at the head of the pack and riding with a very nice flow. I am happy to bring the bike safe to the Marathon Bivouac. One more stage in the books and only 2 more days to go."
After a strong end to the day, Hero rider Joaquim Rodrigues commented, "It was another long stage today. I did well and avoided taking unnecessary risks as we don't have our team to assist at night. So my focus was to bring the bike to the marathon bivouac safely. Overall a good day for me and for the team."
At Sherco TVS, the team's lead rider Michael Metge had to end his run in the rally due to technical reasons, after putting a solid performance in the initial stages. Metge's retirement also comes at a big disappointment to the team, after he won the second stage of the rally. Meanwhile, riders Aravind KP and Abdul Wahid Tanveer put up a strong show at the end of Day 3. Aravind managed to finish the stage in 32nd place in the rally category, while Tanveer who is competing in the Enduro category continued his strong run to finish in second place.
The first day of the marathon stage was divided into two parts - 89 km and 107 km and riddled with navigational challenges. The first phase of the rally was rugged as the riders traversed through the challenging terrain, while the second phase had complicated navigation as the riders cut through the complex labyrinth.
Speaking on the performance of its riders, Sherco TVS - Team Manager, B Selvaraj said, "The riders had to go through a lot of ups and downs in the marathon stage. It is certainly disheartening to see Michael Metge exiting the Rally at such a crucial juncture as he was performing his best to finish on top in the initial stages. Aravind KP had a decent run in the marathon stage and finish the stage with his bike at a good condition. It is great to see Tanveer maintaining his position consistently and he aims to get a podium finish."
David Casteu, Team Manager, Sherco TVS said, "Stage 3 was the toughest stage so far, with varying terrain and the fact that the riders had no help from the service crew. Michael Metge's exit is a big loss for the team and I hope he will come back stronger in the next Rally. Aravind and Tanveer have maintained their positions and I am happy to see the progress they have made till now. The next stage will be equally tough as the riders will have to tackle labyrinth of tracks, which are bound to be complicated in terms of navigation."
Stage 3 of the 2019 Merzouga Rally came to a halt at the Marathon bivouac, where the participants will be on their own with no assistance from the teams. Stage 4 will see a marathon day as well and will the competitors cover a distance of 205 km riding back to the Erfoud to reunite with their teams.