7 things you didn’t know about Oriol Mena

2 Months ago
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Hero MotoSports' search for an aggressive yet prolific rider ended with Spaniard Oriol Mena when he signed up to be the team's third rider for their 2018 Dakar campaign. Mena, riding the older version of the Hero 450RR, raced his way through the finish line in Cordoba. Not only did he break through the toughest race in the world in his first attempt, but he also made it to the top ten rankings, finishing 7th overall.

When most display traits of exhaustion and tiredness, Mena's commendable approach to stay fresh and consistent throughout the 10 stages in the last Dakar showed his capabilities to be a rider who is a quick learner and long-lasting. His performance even earned him the best rookie rider title.

But, how much do you know about Oriol beyond the glories of his first Dakar stint? In this article, we bring you 7 things that you didn't know about Oriol Mena:

1) Before joining Hero MotoSports, Oriol Mena Valdearcos had been racing in the World Enduro Championship for over 13 years. He has been the Enduro Junior World Champion, 2009 and had won the International Six Days Enduro, as a member of the Spanish Trophy team, in the years 2007, 2009 and 2010.

When it came to rally raids, Mena had done two rallies, the Sardegna Rally in Italy where he secured a second position finish, and the Merzouga Rally in Morrocco where he finished 12th overall. The Dakar 2018 was his first big stint, and to earn the 7th spot in his very first attempt is a commendable achievement.

2) The passion for motorsport was a deeply seeded one for Mena. "My father bought me my first motorcycle when I was 3 years old and I have been at it ever since," he recalls. He continues to help his father around his workshop till this date and enjoys every moment of it.

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3) The crazy dream that is Dakar was lived by Mena last year, but it's been something that has been on his mind since his childhood. "When I was a kid, I remember watching the Dakar Rally on my TV during a Christmas holiday," he recalls. "I distinctly remember following my idols, the likes of Marc Coma and others."

Mena does acknowledge just how much the first Dakar experience had changed his life. “This rally has some very important values. I discovered a part of me that I didn’t know. Going beyond your limits, the battle, the perseverance, this race taught me a lot and not just about motorcycle racing, but also about daily life.”

4) When asked of his best skills, Mena speaks of his ability to survive and overcome difficult situations. "I'm a rider who falls in love with a race when it gets really hard. I prefer difficult races - when it rains a lot, a desert storm popping up, windy conditions, you name it... if the race is hard, I like it better. I enjoy that the most. I'm a survivor."

5) The Dakar's 41st edition finds Mena and other Dakar participants take on Peru which is expected to be 70% sand, a terrain the Spaniard claims he is well prepared for.

“We have prepared very well in riding on terrain that is very similar to what we will face. Even though the Dakar changes a lot from one year to the next, I am very familiar with what Peru has in store for us," he said.

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Prior to the Dakar, Mena had participated in Desafio Inca Rally in Peru, a three-day event that proved to be an important learning ground for him.

6) When not racing, Mena likes to focus on his mental preparation for each stage. When on holidays, you will most likely find him relaxing with his friends and spinning laps with his motocross bike at home. If you follow him on Instagram, keep an eye out on the behind-the-scenes footage from his multiple training sessions.

7) Pre-race ritual is something almost every racer has, whether or not, they fail to notice it. When asked about his, Mena revealed that he likes "looking at myself in the mirror and listening to music that motivates me to perform at my best." This is a habit that puts him in a zone from where he is able to ride with a good flow and a confident head.

Ever since his debut, Mena has turned quite a few heads but a solid debut also means that the bar is raised for him. The coming Dakar Rally will continue to be a testing ground for Mena and his Hero 450RR as he prepares to ride with his team amidst an exceptionally talented group of competitors.