MOTOCROSSTIME - NEWS FROM MERZOUGA RALLY 2018
MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM
The Argentinean Monster Energy Honda Team rider was, for the second time, the fastest in the Merzouga Rally. Benavides, who had previously won the prologue, triumphed in an error-free second stage ride and moves up into second place overall, behind team-mate Barreda, as the race arrives at the marathon stage.
The Honda CRF450 RALLYs are so far dominating the Merzouga Rally. Kevin Benavides clinched the third consecutive victory for a Monster Energy Honda Team rider, after taking the top spot in the prologue and Barreda’s victory in the first full stage. The Argentine reached the finish line while scoring the day’s best time and is rewarded with a move up the overall leaderboard into second place.
The second best rider in the Monster Energy Honda Team on the day proved to be José Ignacio Cornejo, who finished fifth with a swift pace. Joan Barreda, opened the track after winning the stage yesterday, a difficult job, but succeeded in not dropping much time to the pursuing pack and in doing so holds on to overall top spot.
Ricky Brabec woke up this morning to headache and a discomfort which hampered his performance. Nevertheless, the American battled on to post seventh position and is one position higher in the general rankings. Portuguese Paulo Gonçalves kept a cautious pace, avoiding errors or falls conceded some time to his team-mates.
Tomorrow begins the first part of the marathon stage, which will feature a 63-kilometre liaison and a 239.21-kilometre special stage against the clock. Riders will spend the night in the camp located at the foot of the dunes, without the possibility of receiving mechanical assistance.
“I felt very well today, I went out to attack with a great pace. I felt very good about the bike. In the end, I saw the ones in front and over the final kilometres of dunes, I wanted to attack but something made me think about not forcing and not risking to finish the stage safe and sound. I arrived well, I won the special and we are good in the race.”
ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING TEAM
QUINTANILLA RUNNER-UP ON STAGE TWO OF THE MERZOUGA RALLY
Continuing his strong run of form in the Moroccan dunes, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider Pablo Quintanilla has secured a strong runner-up result on the second rally stage of the 2018 Merzouga Rally. With three stages still to be contested, the Chilean rally star is less than five minutes behind the provisional overall leader.
Delivering the goods again today in Morocco, Quintanilla enjoyed a mistake-free timed special. Reaching the leading riders after the halfway mark, the FR 450 Rally powered rider lead the group for the remainder of the stage. Securing second for the day, the reigning Cross-Country Rallies World Champion is still in the game for the coveted victory at the event.
Battling through a demanding stage in terms of navigation, Andrew Short brought his Husqvarna home in 14th position. Continuing to learn and improve, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider is looking forward to the remaining three stages of the event in Morocco.
The first part of the two-day long marathon stage, tomorrow’s stage three will be crucial for the final outcome of the event. Featuring a total of 303km, it includes a timed special of 239km. Expected to reach the finish of the stage early tomorrow afternoon, riders will not be allowed any outside assistance as they prepare their machines for Thursday’s stage four. Pablo Quintanilla: “Overall, I feel like I did a really good job today. We had a very early start this morning and in the first dunes it was difficult to see if another rider was in front. Around the 120km mark I caught the leading group of riders and continued to open the tracks for the remainder of the special stage. I made no mistakes and felt fast from start to finish. My navigation was also on point and this is crucial in such conditions. It was a positive day and I’m happy for it. Tomorrow we have the marathon stage and we will not get any assistance at the end of the stage. We need to protect our bikes and make sure we avoid any small crashes. I’m looking forward to the marathon stage. It won’t be easy but I will do my best to enjoy it.” Andrew Short: “It was a tough stage both mentally and physically. The navigation was tricky and the dunes were really soft. Also, the dry rivers were fast with a lot of vegetation, so there was a mixture of everything in the special stage. It was a hard day but overall I did my best for a good result. I’m hoping that the area we’re heading to tomorrow will be a lot simpler in terms of riding and navigation. So far this event has been a huge learning experience for me.”
The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
TOBY PRICE THIRD FASTEST ON STAGE TWO
The short 175.3km timed special of stage two of the Merzouga Rally saw riders head out into the desert east of the small town of Merzouga. The route was made up of two loops, separated by a 15-minute neutralization. Comprising a mixture of dunes and faster tracks, the stage still required careful navigation in order to post a good time.
Setting off early in the morning at 7.00am, riders initially struggled with visibility due to the rising sun. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Toby Price kept his head down and concentrated on both his navigation and maintaining a consistent pace on the timed special. Keen to not repeat the error he made on Monday’s stage one, the Australian was careful to hit every waypoint whilst not losing too much time. At the finish, Price posted the third fastest time of the day, just over three minutes down on the leader Kevin Benavides.
Happy with his riding, Toby now prepares himself for tomorrow’s tough 240km marathon stage.
Toby Price: “It was a good day today, especially after having such a tough day yesterday. I kept to a good pace and concentrated on my navigation. I just nailed each section and tried not to make the same mistakes as yesterday and lose a chunk of time. After making a mistake like yesterday, you lose confidence in your roadbook, so today was all about building that confidence up again and getting a solid result. The bike was great again today and now we have to plan for tomorrow’s marathon stage. I think it is going to be pretty tough, but I’m not opening the stage so I should be able to chase down the guys in front a little while hopefully conserving myself and the bike.” Following a disappointing stage one, KTM Factory Racing’s Laia Sanz set out this morning to make up for time lost. The Spaniard rode well, posting the 16th fasted time on the stage, but only a few minutes away from the top-10. With her confidence growing, Laia is looking forward to improving further.
Laia Sanz: “I am really happy with how I rode today. The result is not so good, but my times are a lot closer to the top guys than yesterday. I am feeling a lot more comfortable on the bike now and that has given me the confidence to push a little more. For tomorrow’s marathon stage I hope I can keep improving and get to the campsite with no issues.”
Stage three of the 2018 Merzouga Rally sees the riders tackle the first half of the event’s marathon stage – a long 241.1km stage that, following a long liaison section, leads competitors into the soft dunes around the Fezou region. Riders will then stay overnight at the campsite receiving no outside assistance to their machines.
Merzouga Rally 2018 – Stage 2 results
|1||BENAVIDES Kevin||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||2:41’54|
|2||QUINTANILLA Pablo||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+2’16|
|3||PRICE Toby||AUS||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+3’41|
|4||CAIMI Franco||ARG||Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team||Yamaha||+7’42|
|5||CORNEJO José Ignacio||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+8’10|
|6||BARREDA Joan||SPA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+8’17|
|7||BRABEC Ricky||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+8’35|
|8||PEDRERO Joan||SPA||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||Sherco||+11’29|
|9||DUPLESSIS Martín||ARG||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||Sherco||+15’22|
|10||SANTOLINO Lorenzo||SPA||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||Sherco||+16’26|
|11||SVITKO Stefan||SLO||Slovnaft Team||KTM||+16’47|
|12||CERUTTI Jacopo||ITA||Moto Racing Group – MRG||Husqvarna||+17’30|
|13||GONCALVES Paulo||POR||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+18’45|
|14||SHORT Andrew||USA||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+19’24|
|15||BOTTURI Alessandro||ITA||Botturi Racing||Yamaha||+19’46|
Merzouga Rally 2018 – Provisional Standings after Stage 2
|1||BARREDA Joan||SPA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda|
|2||BENAVIDES Kevin||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda|
|3||QUINTANILLA Pablo||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna|
|4||CAIMI Franco||ARG||Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team||Yamaha|
|5||PRICE Toby||AUS||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM|
|6||BRABEC Ricky||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda|
|7||CORNEJO José Ignacio||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda|
|8||PEDRERO Joan||SPA||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||Sherco|
|9||SANTOLINO Lorenzo||SPA||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||Sherco|
|10||DUPLESSIS Martín||ARG||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||Sherco|
|15||GONCALVES Paulo||POR||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda|