Monster Energy Honda will fight to the end for a win

Kevin Benavides © DR

Argentine rider Kevin Benavides and American Ricky Brabec look set to finish on the rostrum of the Morocco Rally, the final race of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, with just the final stage left to dispute. In the second leg of the marathon stage in M’hamid, Benavides finished second.

 

With Paulo Gonçalves out after retiring yesterday with an injured right hand, Monster Energy Honda Team now focuses attention on improving the results of the two remaining riders in the race: Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec. The second part of the marathon stage was held today over a shortened 170.86 kilometre course, after the second stretch had been cancelled, with race authorities citing safety concerns due to flooded rivers.

After clinching a first ever stage victory in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, American Ricky Brabec had to start out from first position in the rally’s penultimate stage, which set off from Erg Lihoudi. The day started with fast track before arriving at the dunes with a 40 kilometre trek through the sand. The special wound up with a fast track section. Riders later arrived at the neutralization zone at the Erfoud bivouac.

Ricky Brabec dropped some time as a result of some minor confusion and was caught up by the other riders. By the end of the day the Californian had finished in seventeenth place, but holds fourth position overall. Kevin Benavides held a solid pace throughout and was indeed fast enough to have taken the stage victory outright, had it not been for a doubt about the roadbook, which cost the rider time and eventually robbed him of the chance of a first stage win in the Morocco Rally. Kevin lies third in the overall standings.

The Morocco Rally concludes tomorrow, Tuesday, in Erfoud after a 163 kilometre special.

Kevin Benavides – STAGE: 2nd – OVERALL: 3rd : « Today was a day with new cuts to the route. He went at a good pace – enough to have won the special, but I think an inaccurate roadbook note confused me and I did a few miles more. It’s not bad to finish the penultimate stage in second place, I think it will be good for us for the starting position tomorrow and we have a chance to win the race. We’ll have to see, however, how all this ends with the penalties that have been dished out these days: I don’t like the way the organization and the FIM have handled this at all. »

Ricky Brabec – STAGE: 14th – OVERALL: 4th : « Today I had to open the track over the first kilometres. Then we rode in a group until the end. It was a short stage. The roadbook was tough in the morning. The sand dunes were good. The stage was really fun but it’s hard to go race when you know that KTM get their own way. They have a really good spokesperson for FIM and towards the rally organisation. To keep racing after they get their own way every single day is tough for us. We keep fighting and we keep doing well and we can win. But when Honda wins KTM have something to say. It’s not good. It hasn’t been a good rally for us. They do something wrong they capitalize on it and get their time back. They miss a waypoint – they get their time back. They get stuck in the water – they get their time back. We go one kph over the speed limit – they give us a one minute penalty. It’s a little BS for us. It’s not fun and it’s not racing for us. It’s hard to race each day like that. Tomorrow is the last day and we’ll fight for a win. »

Stage 4 results
1. Van Beveren Adrien – FRA – Yamaha Motor Europe, 01:55’20
2. Benavides Kevin – ARG – Monster Energy Honda Team, +2’08
3. Quintanilla Pablo – CHI – Husqvarna Factory Rally Team, +2’42
4. Meo Antoine – FRA – KTM Factory Racing Team, +3’15
5. Santolino Lorenzo – SPA – Sherco TVS Rally Factory, +3’59
6. Metge Adrien – FRA – Sherco TVS Rally Factory, +4’18
7. Rodrigues Joaquim – POR – Hero Motorsports Team Rally, +4’26
8. Walkner Matthias – AUT – KTM Factory Racing Team, +4’43
9. Sanz Laia – SPA – KTM – Factory Racing Team, +5’14
10. Pedrero Joan – SPA – Sherco TVS Rally Factory, +6’49
11. Aubert Johnny – FRA – 1ForAll Motorsport, +7’34
12. Patrao Mario – POR – KTM Portugal, +7’40
13. Botturi Alessandro – ITA – Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team, +8’28
14. Brabec Ricky – USA     Monster Energy Honda Team, +9’24
15. España Cristian – AND – 1ForAll Motorsport, +10’03…    
    
Rider Standings
1. Quintanilla Pablo – CHI – Husqvarna Factory Rally Team, 8:05’35
2. Walkner Matthias – AUT – KTM Factory Racing Team, +6’49
3. Benavides Kevin – ARG – Monster Energy Honda Team, +13’58
4. Brabec Ricky – USA – Monster Energy Honda Team, +20’27
5. Meo Antoine – FRA – KTM Factory Racing Team, +22’19
6. Pedrero Joan – SPA – Sherco TVS Rally Factory, +24’12
7. Rodrigues Joaquim – POR – Hero Motorsports Team Rally, +33’17
8. Sanz Laia – SPA – KTM Factory Racing Team, +35’25
9. Metge Adrien – FRA – Sherco TVS Rally Factory, +37’12
10. Patrao Mario – POR – KTM Portugal, +40’47… 

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