Erfoud (Morocco), May 9 (IANS) The third stage of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally here proved to be difficult for riders when a desert storm passed across during the second half of the stage on Tuesday.

The storm lasted for only about 30 minutes but was enough to complicate matters for the riders and the organisers.

The third stage was relatively shorter and took riders around in twin loops of Erfoud — bigger loop accounting for 112 Km and the inner loop adding another 63 km to make up the total of 175 kms.

Hero MotoSports Team Rally’s Joaquim Rodrigues started the stage well, but a puncture in the bike’s cooling system forced him to stop to fix the leaking coolant, making him loose time in the process. However, things got worse for him as he found himself caught in the middle of the sand storm, forcing him to stop in the middle of his run, while the other riders had already passed the finish line. He finished the day at 23rd place.

The stage proved testing for C.S. Santosh as well, as he struggled with a malfunction in his roadbook equipment causing him a delay in finishing the 1st loop. The 2nd loop turned out to be much better for Santosh as he rode through the small dunes with ease until he too got caught in the storm just a few kms before the stage finish. Santosh finished the day at 17th position.

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