TVS factory rider Harith Noah continues his climb up the order in the 2021 Dakar rally, and now stands 25th overall after registering his best result yet in this year’s rally.
In contrast to the idyllic backdrop of the Saudi coast, Stage 9 was one of the most demanding stages this year, offering a combination of quick sandy tracks and more technical sections. But overall, it proved to be a strong stage for the Indian contingent. Hero MotoSports’ Joaquim Rodrigues inched closer to the top 10 with another great result, while Ashish Raorane returned to action in the Dakar Experience category.
Harith Noah finishes Stage 9 in 17th place
Joaquim Rodrigues up to 12th overall for Hero
Ashish Raorane returns to action
Hartih Noah finishes Stage 9 in top 20
Noah, who is competing as a privateer with the Sherco Rally Factory Team following TVS Racing’s decision to opt out of Dakar 2021, ran into a fair share of issues. He had to spend nearly the first half of the stage playing catch-up after he lost a chunk of time due to a navigational error. He was later handed a penalty for braking too late into a speed zone and even suffered a little tip-over 500 metres from the finish line. But overall, he made some crucial calls that worked in his favour.
“The entire stage was super dusty, another first for me. Navigation was incredibly hard and I tried to keep my focus. Made a couple of good calls which worked out in my favour. Completed the stage with a little tip-over 500m out from the finish,” he said.
He managed to complete the stage in 17th place, which happens to be his best result in this year’s edition of the Dakar Rally so far. This propels him to 25th place in the overall order.
Hero MotoSports edges closer to top 10
Hero MotoSports’ Joaquim Rodrigues made some big gains in the overall rankings on what was an emotionally charged day for the team, since yesterday marked one year since the tragic demise of factory rider Paulo Gonçalves.
Taking into account the high attrition rate during the stage, Rodrigues decided to take a more cautious approach to ensure he reached the finish line. “My mind was playing out all kinds of thoughts and memories on my way from the bivouac to the start of the stage. But I just told myself that I need to do this for Paulo and so I just jumped on the bike went on with the stage,” he said.
“The stage was really difficult and dangerous with too many stones and rocks. I saw a couple of riders crash on the stage and immediately decided to slow down and focus on making it to the finish line safely.”
A 13th place stage result sees him jump to 12th in the overall order. Meanwhile, Sebastian Buhler moves up to 16th place overall after finishing 24th in the stage.
Ashish Raorane returns under Dakar Experience category
Stage 9 also saw Indian privateer Ashish Raorane return to action following his Stage 5 crash. Following technical and medical checks, he was given the all clear to continue his Dakar journey in the Dakar Experience category. As a result, he can compete for a stage result, but won’t qualify for an overall rank.
And he was back with renewed determination, securing his best result so far. He suffered a small crash 85km from the finish line, but was able to get back on his KTM 450 Rally Replica to complete the stage in 59th place.
Dakar 2021 results
12. Joaquim Rodrigues
16. Sebastian Buhler
25. Harith Noah
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