Hero MotoSports Team Rally showcased its 2018 Dakar challenger, the Hero RR 450 for the first time in India. The motorsport division of Hero MotoCorp also announced its rider line-up for the 2018 Dakar that kicks off on January 6, 2018 in Peru, South America. Alongside CS Santosh and Joaquim Rodrigues who have already been with the team for over a season, Hero MotoSports will field a third rider – Oriol Mena – in the 2018 Dakar.
CS Santosh, Dr Markus Braunsperger and Wolfgang Fischer with the new Hero RR 450
All three riders will ride the new RR 450 which has been developed with Speedbrain GmbH and is comprehensive upgrade over last year’s bike. The RR 450 gets an all-new design including a reshaped fuel tank, reshaped body panels and a revised front end. The fuel tanks have been moved from the rear of the bike to the sides, which has helped change the weight distribution and lowered the centre of gravity, which in turn has helped improve handling and ergonomics. The bike also gets a transparent flyscreen upfront which will offer riders a better view of the front of the motorcycle in tricky conditions, particularly in the dunes, as compared to the older version
Hero MotoSports enjoyed some success in their debut season itself, including the 2017 Dakar. And while the 2018 edition of the rally will only be the team’s second outing at the big event, Hero say that its learnings from the various rallies it competed in last year have helped it develop a better bike for this year. CS Santosh, who was present at the event, confirmed that the new bike is a lot more confidence-inspiring and should feel better in terms of tackling the gruelling terrain and challenges thrown by the Dakar rally.
CS Santosh astride the motorcycle that he will pilot at Dakar 2018
Speaking on the occasion of the India unveil of the Hero RR 450, Dr. Markus Braunsperger, Chief Technology Officer, Hero MotoCorp and Head of Hero MotoSports said, “We are excited and prepared for Dakar 2018. The team is stronger, both in terms of men and machine. We are focused on improving our last year’s performance at the Dakar next month and believe that we have the right tools to do it. Next year will be important for us, as we aim to win more rallies and grow the sport in India”
Meanwhile, Wolfgang Fischer, the team manager of Hero MotoSports Team Rally, said, “The last race for the Team was in October this year. The riders have been under intense training sessions, to improve their mental and physical fitness since their Dakar 2017 performance. They had a good run on the new bike at OiLibya and are now more confident on it. There is excitement in the Team with addition of Oriol and the entire team is now raring to have another go at the Dakar.”
Of course, the hopes of Indian rally-raid fans rest firmly on the shoulders of CS Santosh, the team’s Indian rider. Santosh is no stranger to the Dakar, and will be competing in his fourth outing at the event. With less than a month to go until the Dakar, he said that he feels more prepared for the event, than he’s been in the past. “I am satisfied with this year’s preparations, where I had the opportunity to work with industry professionals and experts, which brought in a better structure to the preparations. I am very happy with the new bike that we raced with at the OiLibiya Rally in October. The new bike is light, agile and makes going fast safe! This Dakar I will aim to make each and everyday count! Ultimately it’s about enjoying the process and arriving at the finish line,” Santosh remarked.
The 40th edition of the Dakar will start in Peru on January 6, 2018, crossing into Bolivia, and then subsequently into Argentina where it will end on January 20, 2018. Competitors will have to tackle 9000 gruelling kilometres. We wish them luck!