Hero MotoSports’ Paulo Goncalves continues to maintain a firm grip on the top 15 after Stage 2 of the 2020 Dakar Rally. The stage (featuring a 367Km special) also kicked-off the super marathon stage for the bikes and quads, which restricts elite riders (those who have finished in the Top 10 in the general classification or have at least won a special stage in the past few years) to just 10 minutes of maintenance work at the end of the day. With majority of the stage made up of tracks, navigation ended up being the biggest challenge for competitors since the multiple tracks could lead to confusion.
Much like in the previous stage, Goncalves continued his cautious approach to bag yet another 12th-place stage finish. His largely error-free run so far sees him stand 14th in the overall rankings.
“We finished the second day of Dakar 2020. It is our first marathon for the elite riders. I’ve arrived okay without any mechanical issues, so everything is okay for the finish tomorrow for the second part of the marathon. The bike works well. I’ve been riding very safe to not make any mistakes, specially today in the marathon stage. And I will try to improve my speed day-by-bay without mistakes to get a good finish,” the Portuguese rally veteran said.
Sebastian Bühler amped his performance to complete the stage in 21st place, which promotes him to 25th place in the general standings. Elsewhere, CS Santosh was able to successfully complete the stage in 54th place to stand 48th overall.
Despite retiring from the rally in Stage 1 yesterday, the newly introduced “Wild Card” rules permit Joaquim Rodrigues to return and run the remaining stages. However, as per the new rules, he will only be competing for stage results and will be considered out of contention for an overall result. He managed to complete the second stage in 48th place.
A massive crash in Stage 1 had left Sherco TVS’ Harith Noah all the way down in 111th place, but he was able to make up some lost ground. Managing an eye injury, the Indian rider returned to finish Stage 2 in 52nd place. The result sees him make some big gains in the overall rankings, and he now stands in 65th place.
Sherco TVS also had two of its riders finishing in the top 20 with Lorenzo Santolino and Adrien Metge setting their respective 17th- and 18th-fastest times in the stage. Metge is now 16th overall, while Santolino stands at 22nd. Johnny Aubert also secured a fairly impressive 22nd place finish in the stage to move up to 18th, overall.
Sam Sunderland ended up taking the overall lead in the bikes category, with Toby Price facing a tough time opening the way for the stage and losing a chunk of time in the process. In the car category, Fernando Alonso’s Dakar hopes took a big hit – he lost over 2hr of time waiting for his assistance team after breaking a wheel. Meanwhile, a consistent performance has helped Orlando Terranova move up to take the overall lead.
Overall standings after Stage 2
14. Paulo Goncalves
25. Sebastian Bühler
48. CS Santosh
16. Adrien Metge
18. Johnny Aubert
22. Lorenzo Santolino
65. Harith Noah
Dakar 2020: Hero and TVS in top 15 after Stage 1