Due to weather conditions on track, the total distance of the third stage of the 2022 Dakar Rally was shortened to 255 kilometers. In the end, Portuguese rider Joaquim Rodrigues came out on top. He's currently racing for Indian motorcycle manufacturer Hero MotoCorp under the company's racing division, Hero MotoSports. The victory comes as a first for both Rodrigues and Hero.
Winning a Dakar Rally stage is no mean feat, and is by all means an amazing achievement. To make things even sweeter, this victory is Rodrigues' first, and a first, too, for any Indian motorsports team in the esteemed rally. Rodrigues covered a total of 255 kilometers of grueling terrain in a time of just 2:34:41. Meanwhile, his team mate, Aaron Maré, put up an impressive display, too, finishing the stage in 18th place.
Following the completion of the third stage, Rodrigues takes the 17th overall spot, while Maré sits right in the top 10 at 10th place in the overall rankings. Commenting on taking the win in Stage 3, Rodrigues said: "It was a really, really good stage today. I was able to put in a good rhythm from the beginning. Luckily, I didn’t make any mistakes and I got everything on point. I was just trying to push and the bike is performing really well. Hero has made a big effort over the year of 2021 to put all the riders in a lot of races and to develop the bike, giving the riders some desert and race time. It’s definitely helped and it’s paying off."
Following his success in Stage 3, Rodrigues went on to pay tribute to fellow Portuguese legend Paulo Gonçalves, who tragically lost his life due to injuries sustained in a crash in the 2020 Dakar Rally. "I’m really, really happy with my first win on the Dakar, I made history. Actually, today I was riding and I was feeling so good, riding so fast that I even said to myself “Paulo is riding with me here.” That thought came to me because all the navigation was on point, so I thought to myself “he is with me riding today” and in the end we won, so I think me and him, we won."