Monster Energy Honda on the starting line for the Merzouga

Kevin Benavides © RallyZone

Morocco gave the starting signal today as the Merzouga Rally – the second race of the season – got underway for Monster Energy Honda Team. With the mandatory administrative and technical scrutineering behind them, riders this afternoon moved on to the curtain-raising event, a brief five-kilometre prologue that kicked off the action.


Kevin Benavides, behind the bars of the Honda CRF450 Rally, proved to be the fastest rider of the eighty entrants in the motorcycle category. Paulo Gonçalves posted third place while team-mates Ricky Brabec and José Ignacio Cornejo finished the day 10th and 11th respectively. Joan Barreda, back in his first competition since a wrist operation, rode a prudent race to finish in sixteenth position.

The top fifteen finishers get to choose their starting positions for tomorrow’s first full stage. Over the course of the day competitors will have to tackle some 206.71 kilometres of special stage.    
Kevin Benavides – PROLOG: 1st
« I felt good and confident on the bike and I was quick in this short five-kilometre prologue. I think it is important, as it’s always good to start any race well. Let’s see how tomorrow’s first stage plays out. »
Paulo Goncalves – PROLOG: 3rd
« We have started quite well. I took the prologue a quite a fast pace, which allows me to get a good starting position for tomorrow. The race is expected to be difficult, and I will be hoping to reach the end without any problems – that is my aim in this race. »
Joan Barreda – PROLOG: 16th
« Today we had the first contact with the race with this short, but technical stage in the dunes of Merzouga. I took these first kilometres calmly so that I will be at my best for the forthcoming stages which will have a lot of navigation. »

Ricky Brabec – PROLOG: 10th
« Here we are in Morocco for the Merzouga Rally. Today we had a short five-kilometre prologue that got us started and gave us our first feel of the dunes. I’m looking forward to the first full stage tomorrow. I hope the race goes well, both for me and the team and that everyone has a safe race. »
José Ignacio Cornejo – PROLOG: 11th
« This short prologue has given us a good warm up and loosen up a little on board the bike. I felt good and I did not make mistakes, which is the most important thing here if you want to have a good race. Let’s see how things go and good luck to the team. »

Prologue results
1. Benavides Kevin (ARG) – Monster Energy Honda Team, 5’25
2. Price Toby (AUS) – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team, +0’03
3. Goncalves Paulo (POR) – Monster Energy Honda Team, +0’17
4. Pedrero Joan (SPA) – Sherco TVS Rally Factory, +0’20
5. Santolino Lorenzo (SPA) – Sherco TVS Rally Factory, +0’21
6. Sanz Laia (SPA) – KTM Factory Racing Team, +0’24
7. Caimi Franco (ARG) – Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team, +0’26
8. Quintanilla Pablo (CHI) – Husqvarna Factory Rally Team, +0’30
9. Svitko Stefan (SLO) – Slovnaft Team, +0’30
10. Brabec Ricky (USA) – Monster Energy Honda Team, +0’31
11. Cornejo José Ignacio (CHI) – Monster Energy Honda Team, +0’33
12. Cerutti Jacopo (ITA) – Moto Racing Group – MRG, +0’37
13. Mena Oriol (SPA) – Hero Motorsports Team Rally, +0’39
14. Short Andrew (USA) – Husqvarna Factory Rally Team, +0’42
15. Duplessis Mart


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