Today’s eleven-kilometre Super Special in Zagora produced an excellent outcome for the riders of the Monster Energy Honda Team, who all finished together, the first of whom came home in 20th position. Tomorrow the rally is set to enter the dunes of Erg Chegaga.
Today’s short special stage, a prologue of just eleven kilometres, marked the official start to the Rallye du Maroc. A short route which riders took cautiously, not wanting to take any unnecessary risks before starting the five full stages. Additionally, as today’s finishing positions dictates tomorrow’s starting order, the team thought it wiser not to risk starting from counterproductive leading positions on the first real Rallye du Maroc stage tomorrow where navigation will play a key role.
The riders crossed the finish line, led by Ricky Brabec in 20th position, with Joan Barreda, José Ignacio Cornejo and Pablo Quintanilla following closely behind with very similar times. These should prove to be fine starting positions for tomorrow’s event.
The first stage, including the special stage 1B, will enter one of the most deserted areas in Morocco: the Erg Chegaga, home of the Iriki Lake and the Draa River. Locals describe the dunes of the Chegaga as ‘waves of sand’. The stage will feature a total of 441 kilometres, including 288.24 kilometres against the clock and some 153 kilometres of liaison section.
Ricky Brabec – STAGE: 20th PROVISIONAL: 20th : « We finished the first special stage of the rally, only eleven kilometres, but the team worked well. The navigation maybe wasn’t the most important thing today, but we finished well and we’re looking forward to starting the rally tomorrow on a bigger stage. The team is good and happy to be here to continue our preparation, so thanks to everyone, guys. We still have five days left to race, let’s go for it! »
José Ignacio Cornejo – STAGE: 22nd PROVISIONAL: 22nd : « Today there were a lot of rocks in this first special stage of the rally, so we had to take it easy. Maybe the most important thing was to finish in a good position to start tomorrow and I think it went well. The first stages will be difficult, typical of Morocco, so we have to take it easy because we have five tough days ahead of us. »
Pablo Quintanilla – STAGE: 23rd PROVISIONAL: 23rd : « We finished the prologue and now we are definitely underway in the race. I approached it thinking in terms of tomorrow, looking for a good starting position for the first stage. We know it’s a rally with difficult navigation and we have to take it easy. I’m happy with this prologue, with the feeling on the bike and I’m very motivated and ready to face the first stage. »
Joan Barreda – STAGE: 21st PROVISIONAL: 21st : « It was our first contact with Morocco, with the tracks here, with a lot of stones and dust. The important thing was not to rush things because there are many days still ahead. I think we’ll start tomorrow from a good position and we’ll try to do well over the coming few days. »
Ruben Faria – General Manager : « In a race like the Rallye du Maroc, with five days to go, to start first is perhaps not the best thing, so we decided not to push hard and to handle the Super Special in a relaxed manner. We think it’s not a bad result: 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd, which will allow us to start from behind and try to pull back. The race is long and we have to take it stage by stage. Tomorrow the riders will cross the Erg Cheggaga and there will be plenty of dunes, so we hope that the position will be a good one for them tomorrow. »
Super Special Prologue
1. Rodrigues Joaquim – POR – Hero Motorsports Team Rally, 25’00.00
2. Price Toby – AUS – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team, +0’08
3. Evan Branch Ross – BWA – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, +0’08
4. Caimi Franco – ARG – Hero Motorsports Team Rally, +0’20
5. Bühler Sebastian – POR – Hero Motorsports Team Rally, +0’24
6. Benavides Luciano – ARG – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, +0’28
7. Howes Skyler – USA – Husqvarna Factory Rally Team, +0’28
8. Santolino Lorenzo – SPA – Sherco TVS Rally Factory, +0’52
9. Walkner Matthias – AUT – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team, +0’56
10. Short Andrew – USA – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, +1’00
11. Sunderland Sam – GBR – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team, +1’04
12. Van Beveren Adrien – FRA – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, +1’08
13. Benavides Kevin – ARG – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team, +1’20
14. de Soultrait Xavier – FRA – HT Husqvarna Rally Team, +1’20
15. Maio Antonio – POR – Yamaha Fino Motor, +1’20…
20. Brabec Ricky – USA – Monster Energy Honda Team, +1’48
21. Barreda Joan – SPA – Monster Energy Honda Team, +2’04
22. Cornejo José Ignacio – CHI – Monster Energy Honda Team, +2’16
23. Quintanilla Pablo – CHI – Monster Energy Honda Team, +2’16…