Team HRC Rally will now take stock of last week’s participation in the Afriquia Merzouga Rally. For the revamped team it was far more that just a victory: it was a display of fine teamwork, sound choice of riders and clear evidence that the team’s new work ethos is functioning.
The Afriquia Merzouga Rally put over 120 riders and teams through their paces. The race the first of the Dakar Series featured an even tougher course with a higher level of difficulty.
Team HRC grabbed the glory with super-charged Argentinean prodigy Kevin Benavides. Kevin first snatched victory in the prologue and after won the crucial third stage. In the fourth and penultimate stage, Benavides displayed a fine blend of concentration and riding skill, opening the track and staying ahead of the pack until the chequered flag. In the final stage the Gran Prix des Dunes the Team HRC rider kept his adversaries carefully in check to seal the final overall rally triumph.
Kevin Benavides’ Team HRC comrade, American Ricky Brabec, got a full-immersion course in navigation at the Afriquia Merzouga Rally. On the Honda CRF450 RALLY, he was able to experience cross-country rally navigation at its harshest. In spite of all, the American proved himself to be very quick and an overall sixth place verified this. Brabec has been able to finish all the races disputed so far in Team HRC livery.
Next week from 2nd June sees the Sardegna Rally Race, the third race in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies Championship. Team HRC will take part with Kevin Benavides, who will be supported by the Italian structure RS Moto Honda Rally Team.
Taichi Honda – Team HRC Rally Project Leader: « It was a great rally this time. Kevin has shown a fine performance and also Ricky showed he is very fast. We have only just begun with this rally and we will now continue to build a great team and a better bike. In addition to trying out the bike during these races, we also have other tests planned to continue its evolution. The Honda CRF450 RALLY has had no problems whatsoever in this race. That is a great point in our favour because the Merzouga is a really tough, very demanding rally for the bike and the Honda responded really well. I’m very pleased about that. At the same time we will continue with our aim of getting to the Dakar 2017 with the best bike. » possible.
Martino Bianchi – Team HRC General Manager : « We are very satisfied with this victory. This has been our first outing with the new structure and the new team. It went really well and I want to thank the whole team, the new Team Manager, Roberto Boasso and most of all Kevin Benavides who has done a great job. In spite of a five-minute penalty he was able to overcome the difficulty and win the race comfortably. There is a lot of work still to be done and the next race will be the Sardegna Rally with Kevin and after that the Desaf