MOTOCROSSTIME - NEWS FROM MERZOUGA RALLY 2018

MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM

Joan Barreda consolidated his leadership of the Merzouga Rally with a triumph in the third stage, the first leg of the two-day marathon stage. Kevin Benavides, yesterday’s winner, was third on the day, keeping Monster Energy Honda Team in the top two leader board positions.

The Merzouga Rally arrives at its halfway point dominated so far by the riders of the Monster Energy Honda Team. Today’s third stage in the Moroccan desert was a tough, navigationally challenging affair which saw the Honda CRF450 RALLYs once again clock up the day’s fastest times.

Kevin Benavides, after yesterday’s victory, was forced to open the track and set a cracking pace trying to keep the adversaries at bay. The Argentine rider scored the stage’s third quickest time in the motorcycle category. Team-mate Joan Barreda meanwhile made up time after starting out in sixth place and thus extends his lead in the overall standings. The Spaniard now sports an advantage of almost thirteen minutes over his Argentinean companion in second overall spot.Merzouga-Rally-2018-Stage-3-Joan-Barreda-02

American Ricky Brabec had recovered somewhat after yesterday’s physical ailments to finish sixth on the day. Chilean rider Jose Ignacio Cornejo, who has ridden very consistently throughout the rally, posted a similar time. Paulo Gonçalves continues to improve in pace and also finished in the top ten.

The riders will be away from the Tombouctou Hotel tonight and will sleep out in a special camp out in the desert. The rules of the marathon stage mean that the bikes must remain isolated in the parc ferme and can only receive mechanical assistance from the riders themselves.

Tomorrow, Thursday, Joan Barreda will open the 233-kilometre special on a hard navigation-filled stage. Before the timed stage gets underway there will be a 36-kilometre liaison section with the day concluding back at the Tombouctou Hotel camp after another 103-kilometre link section.Merzouga-Rally-2018-Stage-3-Joan-Barreda

Joan Barreda

STAGE: 1st – OVERALL: 1st

“It was good day. I started out in sixth and I took advantage of the tracks ahead. The second part was a lot tougher with a lot more rocks and I had a small fall but nothing significant and I was able to continue. It’s really important that we have a solid day tomorrow after all the work that we have done up until now. I’m having a perfect rally without making any mistakes, but things are still very tight and it’s wide open.”Merzouga-Rally-2018-Stage-3-Kevin-Benavides

Kevin Benavides

STAGE: 3rd – OVERALL: 2nd

“Today was very full-on as I was trying not to lose any time but I knew that someone would be able to gain time on me. Tomorrow I will try and take advantage of my starting position to make up some time. Right now we are back in the bivouac and we can check exactly how the results have been.”Merzouga-Rally-2018-Stage-3-Goncalves Merzouga-Rally-2018-Stage-3-Cornejo


ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING TEAM

QUINTANILLA & SHORT CONTINUE THEIR STRONG PERFORMANCES

Battling against the heat and the massive Moroccan dunes for a third consecutive day, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has secured a solid runner-up result on the first part of the two-day-long Marathon Stage. Continuing to improve his speed and navigational skills, Andrew Short brought his FR 450 Rally machine home in 12th position. 

For reigning Cross-Country Rallies World Champion Quintanilla, it was another positive day in the dunes of Morocco. Among the first riders to take the start of today’s timed special, Pablo used his experience to post the second fastest time for the day. Remaining third in the rally’s provisional overall standings, Pablo has reduced the gap to the rider in second to a tiny margin of one minute and one second. 

Following Tuesday’s tough stage, motocross legend Andrew Short attacked today’s timed special with the goal to continue learning the ropes of rally racing. Earning 12th for the day, the American now has his eyes set on securing a top 10 spot in the rally’s final overall standings. Reaching the end of today’s stage without any problems, the two Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing riders will have to prepare their machines for tomorrow’s stage without any external assistance. 

Tomorrow’s stage four of the Merzouga Rally will be the second and final part of the two-day-long Marathon stage. Featuring a 233km long timed special in a total of 372km to be ridden during the day, it will reunite competitors with their assistance crews at the Tombouctou Hotel. 2.45382_pablo.quintanilla_rockstar-energy-husqvarna-factory-racing_merzouga_rally2018_032-stage-03

Merzouga Rally 2018 – Stage 03 – Pablo Quintanilla

Daniel Trauner – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally team manager“Everything has been going according to plan for us. Pablo remains well in contention for a good overall result and we will do our best to help him achieve it. Pablo got lost in the opening stage and lost some time, but using his experience he quickly got the time back in the following stage. He caught Barreda 120km into stage two and continued pushing hard until the end. Today’s stage three had some difficult navigation and some tricky stony terrain. Pablo lost some time to the leader but the gaps are still relatively small. We are satisfied with the performance of both our riders. Coming back from injury Andrew is doing great. He’s taking his time to learn and improve while showing some good speed in some sections. It will still take some time before Andrew can catch the very fast pace of the leading pack, but he is making progress and we are confident he will get stronger in the future. Our riders are now at the bivouac ready for tomorrow’s penultimate stage.” 1.45378_andrew.short_rockstar-energy-husqvarna-factory-racing_merzouga_rally2018_039-stage-03

Merzouga Rally 2018 – Stage 03 – Andrew Short


The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

SOLID RESULT FOR KTM RIDERS ON FIRST HALF OF 2018 MERZOUGA RALLY MARATHON STAGE

Stage three of the Merzouga Rally marks the first half of the event’s marathon stage. Staying overnight in a temporary bivouac, riders receive no outside assistance to themselves or their bikes. It is imperative on the stage for competitors to conserve tyres and machinery where even a minor problem could mean the end to their rally. 

Following his third place on Tuesday’s stage two, Toby Price set off just after 8am with just two riders ahead to chase down. Deciding to concentrate on his own navigation and riding to a fast but steady pace to minimise mistakes, the Australian put in a strong performance to finish as the fourth fastest rider at the end of the 241km special. Currently lying sixth in the provisional overall standings, Toby will set off from the bivouac on Thursday with the aim of making up some time on the riders ahead. 

Riding a consistent stage three, avoiding any navigation errors or damage to her KTM 450 RALLY, KTM Factory Racing’s Laia Sanz placed 17th fastest. With the Merzouga Rally marking the Spaniard’s return to rally competition following her excellent result at this year’s Dakar Rally, Laia is using the time in the Moroccan dunes to reacquaint herself with her machine and continue to perfect the navigation required in cross-country rallies.

Toby Price - Red Bull KTM Factory Racing - 2018 Merzouga Rally-stage-3Merzouga Rally 2018 – Stage 03 – Toby Price

Jordi Viladoms – KTM Rally Sport Manager: “The Merzouga Rally has proven to be a tricky race for the KTM Factory Team so far. After performing very well on the Prologue both Toby and Laia started near the front of stage one, this turned out to be a disadvantage due to the navigation on the stage. We know that the rally here in Morocco is a tough one to compete in, that’s why it is such a good practice for the Dakar. We didn’t expect the first special to be such a challenge and it has had us playing catch-up ever since. However, it has also given our riders a good opportunity to work on navigation skills for these types of rallies and will give them good experience for the Dakar early next year. 

“We’re really pleased with both of our riders – Toby’s pace is excellent and he is really working on his skills whilst keeping to a good rhythm. He’s fifth at the moment but still has a good shot at a podium. Laia is currently running 15th overall, which is a great result for her and she is also working very hard on her speed in the desert over these tough conditions.” 

Stage four of the 2018 Merzouga Rally comprises a short 36km liaison section followed by a demanding 233km timed special. Riders will first encounter the characteristic soft dunes of the area before heading out onto the faster tracks of the second half of the stage. Conserving tyres and equipment will again be key before arriving at the service at the end of the day. 

Merzouga Rally 2018 – Stage 3 results

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 BARREDA Joan   SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 3:23’42
2 QUINTANILLA Pablo   CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +8’59
3 BENAVIDES Kevin   ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +9’15
4 PRICE Toby   AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +10’49
5 CAIMI Franco   ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +11’21
6 BRABEC Ricky   USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +13’32
7 CORNEJO José Ignacio   CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +13’39
8 PEDRERO Joan   SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +15’03
9 GONCALVES Paulo   POR Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +15’09
10 SVITKO Stefan   SLO Slovnaft Team KTM +17’08
11 SANTOLINO Lorenzo   SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +17’18
12 SHORT Andrew   USA Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +20’00
13 DUPLESSIS Martín   ARG Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +20’15
14 MENA Oriol   SPA Hero Motorsports Team Rally Hero +20’29
15 BOTTURI Alessandro   ITA Botturi Racing Yamaha +22’30
 
 
 

Merzouga Rally 2018 – Provisional Standings after Stage 3

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 BARREDA Joan   SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 09:36’09
2 BENAVIDES Kevin   ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +12’51
3 QUINTANILLA Pablo   CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +13’52
4 CAIMI Franco   ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +18’22
5 PRICE Toby   AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +20’17
6 BRABEC Ricky   USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +24’53
7 CORNEJO José Ignacio   CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +28’09
8 PEDRERO Joan   SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +32’05
9 SANTOLINO Lorenzo   SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +46’25
10 SVITKO Stefan   SLO Slovnaft Team KTM +54’49
13 GONCALVES Paulo   POR Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +1:09:04