Jaisalmer, April 9 (IANS) Joaquim Rodrigues of Hero MotoSports Team Rally on Sunday won the India Baja Dakar Challenge Series as he blazed through the second leg to finish in first place in the overall general classifications.
Joaquim finished ahead of TVS Racing riders Aravind KP and Abdul Wahid Tanveer. Joaquim won with almost a lead of 25 minutes followed by Aravind, who was ahead by 15 minutes to Tanveer.
This is also the first win for Hero MotoSports Team Rally, since its inception last year. Joaquim said: “Today was a perfect day for me with no mistakes. I opened the stage, so there was no dust and that helped me run my own race. I’m very happy with this victory.”
Tanveer also became the third Moto contender from India to qualify for ASO organized Dakar Rally 2018 to be held in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina with a prize worth 20,000 euros ($21,183). This also ensures the 26-year-old rider a direct qualification into the Merzouga Rally in Morocco later this year.
Abdul Wahid Tanveer qualified in spite of being third overall in Moto category because Joaquim and Aravind have already competed in the Dakar Rally, which gives them an automatic qualification for the same.
In Jaisalmer, building on his overall lead, Joaquim made a strong start in the fifth stage on a hot morning in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan and ended the sixth stage with a world class display in his maiden appearance in India.
Aravind, who trailed by 18 minutes on Day 1, made very strong efforts to come back but the difference proved to be too much for the Indian rider. Tanveer on the other hand maintained a sustained run to ensure his third position beating his rival and teammate R. Nataraj who was in the fourth position at the end of four stages of the rally.
The Xtreme category saw a very strong competition between Raj Singh Rathore and Gaurav Chiripal who trailed by one minute at the end of the first four stages.
Chiripal who was driving a modified Vitara was finally able to make his efforts count as he beat Raj Singh Rathore in the time trial in the last two stages of the rally making it his first win in the India Baja rally.
Chiripal as a result of his win will now get a direct entry into Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm to be held next year.
The final results in the Xtreme category saw Gaurav Chiripal clinching first position followed by Raj Singh Rathore with a difference of about five minutes from the leader. The third position went to Himanshu Arora who made a splendid display of character in 1350 CC gypsy.