Things you didn’t know about Joaquim Rodrigues
12 Months ago
Often hailed as the “Yoda” of Hero MotoSports Team Rally, Joaquim Rodrigues is a rider with years of racing experience to his name, and rightly so. He comes from a family of racing DNA with his own father being a racer himself. Always been surrounded by all things racing, it only made sense that JRod, as he is often known as, followed the same trails as his father.
The former supercross and motocross star will be heading to the Dakar Rally for the third time in January 2019, representing Hero MotoSports alongside CS Santosh and Oriol Mena. To help you know our Hero a little better, here are a few things that you may or may not have known about the Portuguese.
(i) JRod’s father was a motocross rider himself while his sister is married to Honda rider Paulo Gonçalves, who will be racing at the Dakar Rally himself for an astounding 12th time. It is indeed a family full of racers who just love racing their limits.
(ii) It was his father who built JRod his first bike and inspired him to pick up racing as a profession. JRod would often follow his father to the races, and he liked what he saw. Once he got a taste of riding himself on his own bike, JRod never looked back. “My dad is the Hero in my life. He was the one who pushed me to ride. He gave me the bikes, created conditions that nurtured me to be where I'm right now,” he says.
(iii) JRod has been racing for more than 28 years despite being just 37 years old. After spending a little over two decades in Supercross and Motocross, winning multiple accolades in both, he made his debut in off-road rallying with Hero MotoSports Team Rally in 2016.
(iv) Too many years doing the same thing motivated JRod to test his own limits at the world’s toughest race, that is the Dakar Rally.
"After years of racing professionally as a Supercross and Motocross rider, the opportunity to represent Hero MotoSports as a rider came as a welcome challenge which I accepted open-heartedly,” he says. “I have always wanted to race at the Dakar and the offer to race against the best in the world was too good to be turned down."
(v) JRod’s entry at the Dakar was sensational, finishing 12th overall as the second-best rookie in the moto-category. However, his second stint at the Dakar was almost over as soon as it had begun when suffered a fatal crash during the opening stage. He sustained a broken back and had to undergo several surgeries and an extensive rehabilitation program.
“I was in hospital in Chile for six days waiting to fly home, and I thought about my life -'Should I quit? Is this worth it'- but after one month, two months, things start going well again. When you do what you love it's hard to get away,” he recalls.
(vi) The crash may have left few scars on him, but it barely scratched the grit and confidence that drives JRod who was back on his bike to race again in the Atacama Rally. Following the race in Chile, he was back again in Peru for the Desafio Inca Rally which “was even more difficult” as it was the same region where he had crashed earlier. “When I finished, I was really, really happy. It was a big weight off my shoulders. That's why I wanted to race Peru, because I know from experience that the mental part is really important. I knew that if I could race where I nearly ended my career, nearly ended up in a wheelchair, I would be able to get back to proper training.”
(vii) When not racing, JRod loves spending time with his family relaxing. He spends his time off at home with his kids, goes to the golf course for a game or two or even takes his cycle out for a ride. An all-out family man, he claims his love for them to be the reason behind his cautious approach to racing. “No matter where I’m racing, my first priority is always to make sure that I come back home to my family,” he said.
With only a few days to go for the Dakar Rally, JRod believes he has already exorcised his demons from the crash with a 100% finish at the Desafio Inca Rally. Riding on the Hero 450RR, the Portuguese will be determined to come out with flying colours. The Dakar Rally will be taking place entirely in Peru this year with the terrain claimed to be 70% sand thus making it the ‘sandiest’ edition ever.