After 10 punishing stages, the 2019 Dakar Rally concluded with the final stage presenting one final challenge on the dunes of Pisco. The Indian contingent completed the rally on a high note, with Sherco TVS and Hero MotoSports’ surviving riders completing the gruelling event successfully.
Aravind KP has now become only the second Indian, after CS Santosh, to successfully complete the Dakar Rally. After failing to complete the rally in 2017 and 2018, Aravind returned in 2019 and managed to conquer the rally in his third attempt. Adopting a more cautious approach at the start, he eventually broke into the top 50 after Stage 6 and made steady progress thereafter. Consistent performances helped him secure 37th place overall at the end of the rally.
Commenting on his Dakar journey this year, Aravind said, “The feeling of finishing the Dakar is yet to sink in fully as I have been dreaming and waiting for this moment for three years now. It’s difficult to express my feelings at the moment but I am overjoyed to be at the finish line. With multiple injuries in the run up to Dakar, I always knew I had to push myself beyond my comfort zone to finish the rally. The route this year was extremely challenging, but I was ready to fight it out and finish one stage at a time. I hope my achievement inspires young Indian riders to chase their Dakar dreams and work hard to put India on the world motorsport map.”
Sherco TVS’ Adrien Metge and Michael Metge finished the rally in 22nd and 25th place respectively. Michael had a strong start to the rally, but lost a chunk of time in Stage 2 due to a fuel outage. He managed to climb his way back up the order over the next few stages, even winning the penultimate stage, but then ran into problems on the final stage, completing it in last place. However, the result was enough for him to secure 25th place overall.
Adrien, meanwhile, encountered his fair share of challenges – including a wrist injury after suffering a fall in Stage 3. But he continued his journey and finished the final stage in 13th place to complete Dakar 2019 as Sherco TVS’ highest-ranked rider. This also marked the fifth consecutive year that the team has managed to complete the Dakar rally.
Not only did Hero MotoSports enjoy its third successful finish at Dakar, 2019 also marked the second consecutive time the team bagged a top-10 finish at the event. Oriol Mena, who had won the rookie class last year, put on an impressive show throughout the rally and completed the final stage in 17th to slot into 9th place overall in the final standings.
“What a Dakar this has been. Lots of ups and downs, even the last stage was quite tough. I’m very happy with my performance overall and happy to bring in another Dakar for Hero MotoSports Team Rally. I think it was a better Dakar for me this time as we went through some amazing stages and terrains. I’m really happy that I could finish in the top 10 again”, Mena said at the end of the rally.
Mena’s team-mate Joaquim Rodrigues had to battle a number of technical and physical issues during the stages, but he still managed to successfully complete the rally, securing 17th place overall.
Both teams suffered one retirement each – Hero MotoSports’ CS Santosh and Sherco TVS’ Lorenzo Santolino crashed out in Stages 5 and 6 respectively.
As for the overall winners, Toby Price took top honours in the Moto category and Nasser Al-Attiyah clinched victory in the Car category, handing Toyota its first Dakar win.
22. Adrien Metge
25. Michael Metge
37. Aravind KP
9. Oriol Mena
17. Joaquim Rodrigues
1. Toby Price
2. Matthias Walkner
3. Sam Sunderland
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel
2. Nani Roma and Alex Haro Bravo
3. Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena