Sherco TVS, Hero end '21 Dakar in Top 20 with Noah, Raorane finishes too
The two Indian-backed teams started with six riders and five of them finished.
It was a historic end to 2021 Dakar Rally from Indian point of view after Sherco TVS Racing's Harith Noah ended up 20th overall in only his first full run in the grueling event in Saudi Arabia. Last year on his debut, he crashed early on and had to compete under Experience category.
In 2021, he made steady progress from Stage 1 until Stage 12. Despite the challenges and few crashes, Noah notched up good times abode #33 bike in the latter half of the rally, where he moved from 35th to 20th in the overall standings, albeit, helped by some retirements as well.
He was 22nd after Stage 11 and gained two places in Stage 12 to be 20th after finishing 19th in the stage. His total time in the rally was 54hr58m05s with two minutes of penalty time, as he finished 7hr39m.51s behind the eventual winner Honda's Kevin Benavides.
In fact, in the overall standings as well, he was one place behind teammate Rui Goncalves (#19) but the Portuguese was one hour ahead of him in terms of time. Among the the two Indian-backed outfits, though, it was Sherco TVS taking the glory courtesy Lorenzo Santolino (#15).
The Spaniard ended up sixth overall, less than one hour behind Benavides, as he beat some of the veterans of Dakar on the way. The best from Hero MotoSports Rally team was Joaquim Rodrigues (#27) in 11th, missing a Top 10 place by about 22m on 10th placed rider.
Teammate Sebastian Buhler (#24) was 14th overall on his first Dakar attempt with Hero, as their teammate CS Santosh (#50), unfortunately, crashed out in Stage 4. He remains in sedated form in the hospital as per the last update few days ago, as Hero tries to fly him in India.
Another one to miss out on after a heavy crash, Malle entrant Ashish Raorane, completed the rally under 'Dakar Experience' category. He missed Stage 6, Stage 7 and Stage 8, before making a return in Stage 9. He wasn't classified in overall standings despite finishing Stage 12 in 61st.
Both the Indian riders left in the competition made good inroads in Stage 9.
[Image courtesy: Dakar]