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Historic world championship rally stage win for Hero Motorsports and Mena

Oriol Mena takes historic stage victory for Hero Motorsports on stage six of the 2019 Silk Way Rally – Sanz takes fifth place finish.


Sam Sunderland almost took a back seat in the headlines today, stage six of the2019 Silk Way as both Oriol Mena and Laia Sanz grabbed the headlines.

On the final day of competition in Mongolia before the rally heads into the sand dunes of China, Oriol Mena has made history for Hero Motorsports by taking the rally team’s first world championship stage win. 

On a day which featured rain, thunder, lightening and searing heat, riders raced a slightly reduced timed special due to safety reasons: 411.75 kilometres with 278.75 against the clock. None of which presented any problems for Laia Sanz who clocked 2:18:41 on the stage to finish fifth overall just behind rally leader and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mate, Sam Sunderland.

laia sanz Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Silk Way Rally 2019 Stage Five 0104 560

Opening the stage once again due to his second consecutive win on day five, Sunderland led from start-to-finish, despite having to navigate his own way through each waypoint as opposed to following tracks or riding with others. 

Sunderland increased his lead in the provisional overall standings to just over 21 minutes with a fourth place finish. 

The day belonged to Mena however who wion the satge and also moved to second overall in the rally: “I am super happy to win the first ever stage today for Hero MotoSports Team Rally. Now I am in the second position in the overall rankings, which is amazing. I am keeping my fingers crossed and my focus on maintaining the same performance for the last 3 stages as well.”

sam sunderland Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Silk Way Rally 2019 Stage Five 560

For Sam Sunderland it was a day to ride with the head as much as the throttle to preserve his rally lead: “I started in front again today on what was a pretty strategic stage – with the rest day tomorrow and then the last few stages in the dunes of China, nobody wanted to win today. Of course, everyone has the same idea and you can see people trying to work out their strategies as the race continues. Leading out I didn’t have much reference so I just kept going. I managed to get the tricky section right but was always aware of the guys behind me and ended up losing some time myself. Overall, I’m happy with the bike and how everything is going so I’m looking forward to these last few days in the dunes.” 

Laia sanz Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Silk Way Rally 2019 Stage Five 0113 560

Claiming her best result of the rally so far, Laia Sanz used her considerable experience and skill to navigate the stage and post fifth fastest time. Finishing just seconds down on team-mate Sunderland, Laia now sits eighth overall in the provisional rankings: “It was a good stage today, I’m really pleased with the result. I was going well until the refuelling and then lost a few minutes in the same area where the others had problems. 

“Luckily I was able to find my way back to the correct route quite quickly and was able to push for the rest of the stage.” 

Saturday’s stage seven will give the riders an easier time as there is no timed special against the clock but a total distance of 550.66 kilometres to travel. The rally will cross the Mongolian border and head for the first Chinese bivouac at Bayinbaolige. 

Provisional top 10 results stage six – 2019 Silk Way Rally: 

  1. Oriol Mena (ESP), Hero, 2:13:32 
  2. Adam Tomiczek (POL), Husqvarna, 2:13:48 +16 seconds 
  3. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 2:16:35 +3:03 
  4. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 2:18:41 +4:52 
  5. Laia Sanz (ESP), KTM, 2:18:41 +5:09 
  6. Andrew Short (USA), Husqvarna, 02:19:03 +5:19
  7. Franco Caimi (ARG), Yamaha, 02:19:04 +5:32
  8. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 02:24:20 +10:48
  9. Xavier De Soultrait (FRA), Yamaha, 02:27:34 +14:02
  10. Luciano Benavides (ARG), KTM, 2:27:57 +14:25 

Provisional top 10 standings (after stage six) – 2019 Silk Way Rally:

  1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 15:02:50
  2. Oriol Mena (ESP), Hero, 15:24:00 +21:10 
  3. Luciano Benavides (ARG), KTM, 15:26:07 +23:17 
  4. Andrew Short (USA), Husqvarna, 15:29:49 +26:59 
  5. Franco Caimi (ARG), Yamaha, 15:33:09 +30:19 
  6. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 15:35:28 +32:38
  7. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 15:35:32 +32:42 
  8. Laia Sanz (ESP), KTM, 15:58:15 +55:25
  9. Adam Tomiczek (POL), Husqvarna, 16:08:33 +1:05:43
  10. Maciej Giemza (POL), Husqvarna, 16:35:48 +1:32:58 
Photo Credit: Rally Zone
Byline jp ISDE 2018 Enduro21
Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester