Hero MotoSports Team Rally wins the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2024

Hero MotoSports Team Rally won the 33rd edition of the prestigious Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on Saturday

Abu Dhabi, March 2 (IANS) Hero MotoSports Team Rally won the 33rd edition of the prestigious Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on Saturday, registering the first triumph for the 7-year-old at a World Championship race. This follows their historic Dakar Rally podium finish in January 2024.

Rally GP class rider Aaron Marè won the race for Hero MotoSports, showcasing a phenomenal performance at the 6-day desert rally. Even though Aaron joined the team as a substitute for factory rider Sebastian Buhler (who is still recovering from his Dakar crash), the young South African who lives in Dubai, performed at his peak to win two Stages, lead the race for four straight days, and eventually finish on the winner podium.

Collecting several points from the round win, Hero MotoSports has catapulted to the top of the manufacturers’ leaderboard in the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) 2024 – this is also the first time an Indian manufacturer has reached this level on a global stage.

The second factory rider for the team, Ross Branch, finished just outside the podium, in fourth place. By finishing 2nd in the Rally GP class at this second race of the season, Ross has raised his total points to 50, making himself the leader of the World Rally-Raid Championship 2024 – another first for Team Hero MotoSports.

Fondly known as the ‘Kalahari Ferrari’, Ross started well at the start of the rally, with a win in the Prologue stage. However, while leading the race on Stage 1, he faced a mechanical issue. With a bit of luck and smart effort, he could continue in the race and make it to the finish. Even though the issue set him back by over 45 minutes from the lead, Ross made continuous efforts until the end, winning multiple Stages.

The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is popular for its 100% sand and desert terrains and a highly intensive week of racing under the hot sun in the Rub Al’ Khali (Empty Quarter).

Team Hero, however, faced a few setbacks even before the race commenced. Customs clearance issues and a last-minute rider replacement left the team with just under a day to prepare for the race.

Regardless, the lean team consistently outperformed their competition and eventually won the Rally.

The next challenge for the team is in less than a month – the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid to be held in Portugal and Spain – the third round of the W2RC 2024. As leaders of the World Championship in both the Rider rankings and the Manufacturer rankings, the team will aim to continue their strong run and chase better results.

Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager and Head, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, said the team was happy to win in Abu Dhabi.

“We are very happy to be at the finish line as winners of this iconic race! As a team, our achievement is triple-fold – it’s our first victory at a World Championship race, it’s the first time we are leading the World Championship Rider rankings (with Ross), and it’s also the first time Hero is leading the Manufacturer rankings in a World Championship! It has been a roller-coaster week for us – a last-minute replacement for Sebastian, and then delayed arrival of our bikes from customs,” said Fischer.

“However, I am really happy with how Aaron stepped up to the challenge and did a wonderful job all through the race, bringing us this fantastic result. Ross was also able to earn the maximum points in the World Championship. I’m extremely happy with what the team has achieved and look forward to the rest of the season. A big thank you to all our partners and fans for their continued support and love,” he added.

Talking about his triumph, Aaron Maré said, “I’m super happy to get the overall victory at ADDC. I can’t thank Hero MotoSports, Waffi and the team enough for getting me up here. It was an amazing opportunity, and I made the most of it. I was also fortunate to ride along with Ross Branch who came fresh from his Dakar podium and learnt a lot from him. We were teammates several years back, and it was a wonderful time spent with him here. I look forward to the upcoming races in the year.”


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