Dakar 2021: Both Hero MotoSports riders firmly in top 20 overall after Stage 9
At the end of the 465km of competitive riding looped around Neom that made for Stage 9 of Dakar 2021, both Hero MotoSports riders now find themselves firmly entrenched in the top 20. Joaquim Rodrigues finished the stage placed in 13th, while Buhler completed the stage in 24th. The result of the string of solid performances over the last few stages is that JRod is now up to 12th in the overall rankings, with Buhler in 16th.
Stage 9 might be one of the most visually arresting stages of the Dakar so far, with competitors making their way right up to the coast, with several kilometres running along the sandy beaches of the Red Sea. The day also marked one year since the tragic accident on stage that took the life of Hero MotoSports rider Paulo Goncalves, and the day was tough for the entire team. JRod says, "Today was my worst battle. I was really emotional this morning remembering all that happened last year on this day. My mind was playing out all kinds of thoughts and memories on my way from the bivouac to the start of the stage. But I just told myself that I need to do this for Paulo and so I just jumped on the bike went on with the stage. The stage was really difficult and dangerous with too many stones and rocks. I saw a couple of riders crash on the stage and immediately decided to slow down and focus on making it to the finish line safely."
We have also received news that CS Santosh will be flown back to India, under sedation to avoid any stress during the transfer home, so that he can recuperate amongst friends and family. For competitors, Stage 10 will be welcome, with a relatively short 342km special, and 241km of transport, which will see the Dakar move from Neom to Al Ula, traversing hilly terrain that should prove to be a navigational challenge.