The upcoming Dakar Rally will be the seventh consecutive time that Hero MotoSports are participating in the event and this time they have four riders in the team.
In addition to being the Indian team with the most number of appearances at the Dakar Rally, Hero MotoCorp will also be the only Indian manufacturer in the 2023 edition of this gruelling race. The previous year, the team made us proud by scoring a stage victory, a first-ever for an Indian manufacturer. The four riders in the current team are Franco Caimi, Joaquim Rodrigues, Ross Branch, and Sebastian Bühler.
Rodrigues has been with the team since its inception in 2016 and is the most experienced rider they have. In 2022, he won a stage at the Dakar and has been in good form so far, something we hope he will carry into this year’s campaign as well.
This will be the first appearance for Branch at Dakar in Hero colours but he has participated in the competition four times thus far, twice with the Yamaha factory team. He is also a stage winner from 2020.
That is a lot of experience for Caimi and Bühler to bank on. Both these riders missed Dakar 2022 due to injuries but they have recovered well and put up some great performances over the past year. Caimi is also representing Hero at Dakar for the first time but he has raced in four editions of the rally. Meanwhile, 2023 will be Bühler’s third appearance in Dakar for Hero MotoSports.
The team claim that the Hero 450 Rally motorcycle has been optimised over the year to be compliant with the latest Dakar regulations including a new top speed limit of 160 km/h. Dakar 2023 will be held in Saudi Arabia and it will run for 14 stages over 15 days. The rally begins on 31 December, 2022 in Jeddah and will finish at Dammam, on 15 January, 2023; the route is over 8,600 km long.
Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, said, “We have had a great year so far, and we look forward to starting the next season with a strong performance at the Dakar 2023. The team’s preparations have been good and with all four riders in action, we are hopeful of a successful race. The bikes have been performing extremely well, and we are excited to be back for our seventh tryst with the ultimate test. I also extend my warm wishes and thanks to all our partners and fans across the world for their continued love and support.”
Here is what the riders had to say about the upcoming Dakar.
“The year 2022 has been highly rewarding for me, having started on a high with my first Dakar stage win. The team’s performance throughout the season has been consistently improving, and we have put a lot of effort into the bike that’s going into the Dakar 2023. The team and I have been training hard for the Dakar all year, and now we are looking forward to a great month in Saudi Arabia. We are hopeful of earning many victories for myself and the team.”
“My first year with Hero MotoSports has been an exciting and rewarding one, and I am happy to have the opportunity to represent this incredible outfit at the Dakar Rally 2023. The team has been putting a lot of passion, effort and hard work into the bike. I have also been training well and feel mentally and physically fit. I’m excited for the Dakar and looking forward to some great results for the team.”
“I’m super excited to be returning to the Dakar after a gap year due to my big injury. I have recovered fully, and have been consistently improving my performance this season. We are ready for Dakar and our current momentum will prove fruitful at the Rally.”
“It has been a long year of recovery for me after my unfortunate injury in November 2021. I have been working hard to get back to shape, and be ready for the Dakar 2023. I raced at the last two rallies of the W2RC 2022 season, and this helped me recalibrate and improve my performance a lot. The aim has been to get to the Dakar in the best shape possible, and I think we’re now ready for the long month ahead.”
Watch their video here.
Story: Joshua Varghese
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