San Juan De Marcona (Peru), Jan 15 (PTI) Continuing his good run, Hero MotorSports’ Oriol Mena finished the seventh stage in the 13th spot, retaining his 13th position in the overall rankings at the 41st Dakar Rally here. Also Read - Lawyer Caught Stripping Naked & Having Sex with 'Client' During Zoom Court Hearing, To Face Probe

Mena put up yet another solid performance and pushed hard in the initial part of the stage but then eased off a bit as the conditions turned very windy and dusty due to storms in the desert on Monday. Also Read - Machu Picchu in Peru Reopens After 8 Months, But Only For 1 Japanese Tourist. Know Why

Another Hero rider, Joaquim Rodrigues, who received a 40-minute penalty late in the evening on Sunday for missing a waypoint during stage 6, also ran steadily and finished at 11th position. Also Read - Peru Opens Machu Picchu For a Single Japanese Tourist After Being Shut For 7 Months, Here's Why

This enabled the Portugese to climb up a couple of positions from his post-penalty position of 26th overnight, to finish at 24th position in the overall rankings.

Battling the dust, wind and poor visibility, Rodrigues exercised caution to avoid unnecessary mistakes and brought home a fine stage finish.

Showing exemplary sportsmanship he stopped to help Michael Metge from Sherco TVS, who had run out of fuel just before the end of the stage.

Considered the toughest stage of the Dakar rally, the stage 7 got off to a delayed start owing to morning fog in San Juan De Marcona.

It was further marred by bad weather conditions as sandstorms impaired the visibility to an extent where competitors could barely see anything.

A total of 387kms were run during the stage, with 323kms constituting the special stage.

Stage 8 will take the world’s most gruesome off-road rally back to Pisco, where it will be based for the next two stages before the final push to Lima.

Mena, who is recovering from a hand and knee injury in the last stage, expressed satisfaction with his performance.

“It was a good stage for me as my hand and knee felt better and allowed me to pick-up some rhythm. About 50kms from the finish, the conditions became really windy and dusty making it difficult to see anything.

“I rode safely, followed the road book and focused on crossing the finish line,” the Spaniard said.

Rodrigues said he was happy to get home his bike safely from a difficult seventh stage.

“It was quite a difficult stage with the weather conditions not good for riding. It was a fast stage and we passed a lot of completely ruined tracks from the previous stage,” he said.

“The sandstorm in the desert was terrible and made it difficult to see anything beyond the bike, making the navigation really tricky. Just before the finish, Michael Metge ran out of fuel so I tried to push his bike to the finish line.” The other Indian interest in the Rally, Sherco TVS Racing’s Aravind Prabhakar finished the seventh stage in the 46th spot to be placed 47th in the overall rankings.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.