Villamartin (Spain), May 12 — Joaquim Rodrigues gave a winning start to Hero MotoSports Team Rally's (HMTR) campaign, clinching the top spot in the Prologue stage of the Andalucia Rally on Wednesday.
HMTR's other two riders -- Sebastian Buhler and Franco Caimi -- came in third and fourth, respectively.
All the three riders are now comfortably placed for Thursday's gruelling race as they will get to start in front, which could be crucial given the dusty nature of the terrain.
While the 8km stage on Wednesday, consisting of poorly visible tracks, was a symbolic start to the rally and decided the starting order of the riders, it gave them a peek into the hardships they will face when the first full stage takes place on Thursday.
The first stage will bring the riders to the start line near the town of Arcos de la Frontera before setting them off on a 257km special stage and bring the stage to a close back at the bivouac in Villamartin.
Rodrigues said on the day's proceedings that, "We had a good start to the rally today with a first-place finish. Our main goal is to test the bike and the new settings with Dakar 2022 in our sights and this is a good race to do that. I am really happy to get the rally off with a good result for the team."
A beaming Caimi said it was a really good stage. "I think I did well today to finish fourth. The idea is to build it stage by stage and gain confidence, so I am in a good position to start for the first long stage tomorrow."
Provisional Rankings (Prologue) 1. Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero MotoSports Team Rally) 6: 13 sec; 2. Joan Barreda Bort (Monster Energy Honda Team) +01s; 3. Sebastian Buhler (Hero MotoSports Team Rally) +02s; 4. Franco Caimi (Hero MotoSports Team Rally) +05s; 5. Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco Factory Rally Team) +12s.