Hero expands to three-rider effort for 2018 Dakar
Its been more than a year when Hero and Speedbrain came together for competing in the world's biggest cross-country rally, the Dakar Rally.
The Indo-German hired CS Santosh and Joaquim Rodrigues for a two-rider effort initially, as the duo started their campaign in the 2016 Merzouga Rally.
It was followed by the 2016 OiLibya Rally, with its first competitive season culminating in the 2017 Dakar as Rodrigues finished ninth and Santosh was 47th.
The new year started with Santosh finishing third in the Desert Storm, while Rodrigues claim Hero's maiden win in the India Baja - which Santosh was forced to miss due to an injury.
The duo returned to Merzouga, which was followed by the PanAfrica Rally, where for the first time Hero's new signing Oriol Mena competed on the new and upgraded 450cc bike.
Even though Mena didn't compete in this year's OiLibya Rally, the Spaniard has been named as the third rider joining Rodrigues and Santosh in a three-rider assault on Dakar 2018.
”We are [also] pleased with our motorsport team, which in its debut season made a mark in rallies across continents last year," said Hero MotoCorp's boss Pawan Munjal at the EICMA.
"The team is now ready for Dakar 2018. We are also taking our learning and experience from motor sports to develop new concepts and products for our customers."
The team is not only aiming for all the three riders to finish the rally, but also for a Top 10 result with at least one rider to maintain its record from 2017.
The new bike which Hero introduced in the PanAfrica Rally, is merely an evolution of its predecessor according to Santosh. "It [the new bike] has its weight more central and also has a lower centre of gravity to help with better handling.
"It makes going fast safer with the new suspension setup and brand new shock. We have also improved our power delivery for more torque. The bike overall feels small, nimble and light," he said.
The 40th edition is set to take place between January 6-20 in 2018, which will kick off in Peru, before moving to Bolivia and culminating in Argentina.