Erfoud (Morocco), May 11 (PTI) Hero MotoSports Team rally riders Joaquim Rodrigues and C S Santosh have overcome the hardest stage of the ongoing Afriquia Merzouga Rally here.Also Read - Morocco Makes Major Progress Under King Mohammed VI's 20-Year Rule

The two-day marathon stage tested the riders with zones that were quite dangerous and very technical, thus challenging the riders’ bike control to the maximum. Also Read - Lionel Messi Suffers Injury on Return as Argentina Lose 3-1 Against Venezuela

After staying overnight on their own, under the stars of the Moroccan desert and another episode of bad sand storm, the riders went to work this morning to complete the penultimate stage of the race. Also Read - Battle for top four spot in contention as FC Goa face Jamshedspur FC

Already made difficult by the absence of the mechanics and the support crew, the second day of the marathon stage of 206km tested the riders with many dunettes, big stone fields and tricky navigation throughout.

Rodrigues, made a good run today, taking control of the stage with his cool head, steadfast resolve and ever improving navigational skills. He was in fact very close to clinching the stage victory, only missing it by 1:07 minutes. In the end he finished today’s stage in the fourth place, his best stage finish since winning the prologue.

For Santosh too, the stage started well but a nasty crash after that impacted his progress in the stage greatly.

Santosh lost a lot of time due to the crash and finished the stage in 36th position.

With only the last stage remaining to be conquered, Hero MotoSports Team Rally will be looking to make a last dash in the short 50km special of Grand Prix Dunes and bring home a good result for the team.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.