As the competitors climbed out of their bikes, on arriving at the ridiculously picturesque Harcienda El Rosalejo, in the heart of the Andalusian hills, they experienced a heady cocktail of emotions: relief, joy.
Hero MotoSports Team Rally kick started their first campaign of the season at the Andalucia Rally today. After having cleared all the administrative and technical checks over the last 2 days, the team took to the starting line of the Prologue stage at the Villamartin city of Spain.
Taking to the start line I full strength today, Joaquim Rodrigues, C S Santosh and Sebastian Buhler, shifted into race mode with a short 9 km dash for bikes at the end of the day. Handled with ease and caution, Joaquim’s 18th place, Buhler’s 10th place and Santosh’s 22nd place finish in the prologue stage, completed the important task of deciding the starting orders for the riders for their first big stage, which could well turn out to be particularly crucial given the expected dust over the next few days.
The first full stage of the rally will be kicked off tomorrow from the Rally HQ at Villamartin covering 59 kms in the liaison to reach the start line near the town of Moron De La Frontera followed by a 258 km timed special stage to arrive back at the bivouac in Villamartin.
Andalucia Rally makes up for interesting rally in aspects beyond racing as well, by becoming the first rally to set the standards for the “new normal” in the rally raids i.e. being conducted behind “closed doors” with no spectators allowed and the strict compliances required by the teams with the Covid safeguards.
Besides the Covid induced changes, it will also provide the riders with an opportunity to get more familiarized with the colored road books that were first introduced in the Dakar 2020, and test out the new Air Bag requirements for the riders with an aim to make the rally safer for the bike rider.
1. Toby Price, RedBull KTM Factory Racing, 06m 29s
2. Daniel Sanders, RedBull KTM Factory Racing, +00s
3. Ross Branch, Monster Yamaha Rally Team, +03s