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Learning stage in Merzouga Rally

John Bitting

Administrator
STAGE REPORT Monday, May 23rd 2016

Afriquia Merzouga Rally

2016 season Stage 1
Learning stage in Merzouga Rally
Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec were today able to confirm that the great difficulties of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally lie in the hugely-demanding navigation. In the first stage of the rally, the Team HRC duo posted top-five finishes.

Team HRC entered into the thick of things in the Afriquia Merzouga Rally, clocking up just over two hundred kilometres in a tough first stage. Today saw the first dosage of dunes in the Erg Chebbi and, more significantly, some demanding navigation during the 165 kilometres of special stage. The team’s two young hopefuls got the chance to put a lot of the accumulated theory into practice today.

Kevin Benavides set the best time yesterday in the short three-kilometre prologue and set out in today’s special from fifteen starting position hoping to make up time on the adversaries ahead. Nevertheless, the Argentine’s roadbook jammed up very early on and he was forced to move the sheet manually. This caused the rider to lose control of the bike on several occasions whilst riding the dunes with one hand. The result was a slight loss of time and an eventual fifth final position.

Ricky Brabec, third in yesterday’s prologue, who seemed at ease attacking the dunes aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY, also ran into some trouble with the roadbook and had to settle for a fourth place on the day and the corresponding fourth position overall.

Tomorrow the riders can expect a second stage with two very different specials. The first part will feature 31 kilometres of dunes in Merzouga followed by a neutralization section. Next comes the second special stage, a speedier 150 km stretch – total of 341 kilometres on the day.

Ricky Brabec
STAGE: 4TH PROVISIONAL: 4TH
Today was good. We started out in the dunes and we were there for a little bit. Around km 12 13 I got a bit confused with my choice of off-piste. Then I found Adrien and Kevin. I think I jumped in behind them, as Kevin was on the right course. I made a wrong choice and followed Kevin for a bit. From then on I just rode by myself all day. It was really tricky navigation. A lot of off-track. A lot of CAP reading. The middle of the stage was really fast, and the end there were a lot of big dunes and a lot of CAP reading which made it really difficult because the sun was so high. So, sometimes you looked and you couldn’t see the peaks of the dunes. That’s really dangerous. Kevin and I are well set for Tuesday’s stage, so hopefully we can do tomorrow the same thing that we did today and finish well. Learning is what we are out here for – seat time on the bike and learning tricky navigation.


Kevin Benavides
STAGE: 5TH PROVISIONAL: 5TH
Early on in the race the roadbook blocked up and from kilometre two until the finish-line at 160 km I had to move it manually. It was really tough as there were a lot of notes together and I lost a lot of time passing from one to another. I fell a few times while trying to move the roadbook while I was in the dunes, but on the whole I’m quite happy to have finished four minutes off the leaders. It’s the first day, so there’s still a long way to go. This is race with a lot of navigation where we will learn a lot. I’m very happy with the team, with Roberto, Martino and with Ricky; I’m a very lucky fellow.


Roberto Boasso
Team Manager
The riders have done a great job, as have the whole team, the staff and the mechanics. I’m pleased because the young riders have come here to learn the navigation. The team is growing and is improving step by step, and we are taking note of how the new structure is going, because Team HRC’s participation in the Merzouga is also an apprenticeship for us. We are happy because things are going in the right direction and also are grateful for the great support from Taichi Honda and all at HRC.


Results Stage1
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team 2:48'42
2 RODRIGUES Helder POR Yamaha Motor Europe +2'04
3 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +4'18
4 BRABEC Ricky USA Team HRC +4'20
5 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC +4'46
6 FARRES Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team +5'06
7 FARIA Ruben POR Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +10'49
8 OTT-EULBERG Michael GER Team Ott-Eulberg +17'15
9 ENGEL Milan CZE Moto Racing Group +18'45
10 NOSIGLIA Daniel BOL HT Husqvarna Rally Team +19'16
11 RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +23'32
12 THOMAS David RSA HT Husqvarna Rally Team +33'26
13 CORNEJO José CHI XRaids +36'44
14 NOSIGLIA Walter BOL HT Husqvarna Rally Team +43'47
15 MEGRE David POR Team Megre Portugal +45'09
16 PORTELA Luis POR Team Megre Portugal +50'21
Rider Standings
PROVISIONAL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 1
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team 2:52'07
2 RODRIGUES Helder POR Yamaha Motor Europe +2'04
3 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +4'06
4 BRABEC Ricky USA Team HRC +4'12
5 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC +4'33
6 FARRES Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team +5'10
7 FARIA Ruben POR Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +10'44
8 OTT-EULBERG Michael GER Team Ott-Eulberg +19'00
9 ENGEL Milan CZE Moto Racing Group +19'19
10 NOSIGLIA Daniel BOL HT Husqvarna Rally Team +19'49
 

John Bitting

Administrator
2016 season Stage 2
The apprenticeship continues: Benavides, fourth in stage two of the Merzouga Rally
The Merzouga Rally served up another tough day of navigation for the second full stage. Nevertheless, Team HRC riders, Ricky Brabec and Kevin Benavides made it through another arduous, sweltering day without any real setbacks.

Team HRC continues to accomplish its main mission in the Afriquia Merzouga Rally with the two young riders Ricky Brabec and Kevin Benavides gaining experience and coming to terms with the tough navigation.

In a stage that was divided up into two parts, Brabec and Benavides were to come up against navigation of the most difficult kind. The initial part played out in the dunes, whilst the second took to faster-paced track with rocks and various ‘oueds’.

American rider Ricky Brabec started out from fourth position, but a slight roadbook reading error cost him some time. Team HRC colleague Kevin Benavides (Argentina) was able to overtake Brabec, with the two eventually finishing virtually neck and neck.

In the final part of the liaison section Ricky was hit by a rock flicked up by another bike ahead, which, in spite of goggles and helmet, left the American with a nasty bruised nose and headache. The rider will, however, be in perfect shape to ride tomorrow.

Tomorrow will see the rally’s marathon stage, which means that on arriving at the bivouac, the riders will be cordoned off with their bikes without the help of outside mechanical assistance. The riders themselves will be the only ones allowed to make any kind of repairs or servicing. The special stage will feature a lot of sandy, off-piste racing; once again with heavy emphasis on navigation. The total of 464 kilometres will include 223 against the clock.

Ricky Brabec
STAGE: 7TH OVERALL: 6TH
Today was a long day; not very long in kilometres but just mentally with all these notes. There were lots of rocks today that were really dangerous, so I didn’t really want to take any chances and crash. So I slowed down a bit and let the top guys do what they wanted to do. I just played it safe and navigated to the finish line. It’s weird that I didn’t get hit by a stone while I was racing, but I got hit by a stone coming back on the liaison. I didn’t see it coming; it came out of nowhere and it popped me pretty hard. I’ve got a banged up nose and a pretty fat headache. I’m going to go in and take care of it and get some rest.


Kevin Benavides
STAGE: 4TH OVERALL: 5TH
It was a good stage and it was going pretty well until fifteen kilometres from the end when I was unable to find the way out of a river. I lost a bit of time, but what the heck! We’re here to gain experience and learn. It’s important to learn all the signs. But in general, it’s going well and we are in a good position to attack from at the start tomorrow. I feel great on the bike and with Ricky we make a good team.


Results Session
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 FARRES Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team 4:51'45
2 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +1'18
3 SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team +1'33
4 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC +2'25
5 RODRIGUES Helder POR Yamaha Motor Europe +4'19
6 BRABEC Ricky USA Team HRC +6'07
7 FARIA Ruben POR Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +9'40
8 CORNEJO José CHI XRaids +13'52
9 NOSIGLIA Daniel BOL HT Husqvarna Rally Team +17'19
10 REIS Gonçalo POR Team Sol Posto +22'05
11 RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +26'35
12 PORTELA Luis POR KTM Portugal +29'05
13 MEGRE David POR Team Megre Portugal +29'33
14 CROSBIE Vincent RSA Nomade Racing +30'57
15 THOMAS David RSA HT Husqvarna Rally Team +31'10
Rider Standings
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team 7:45'25
2 FARRES Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team +3'37
3 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +3'51
4 RODRIGUES Helder POR Yamaha Motor Europe +4'50
5 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC +5'25
6 BRABEC Ricky USA Team HRC +8'46
7 FARIA Ruben POR Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +18'51
8 NOSIGLIA Daniel BOL HT Husqvarna Rally Team +35'35
9 ENGEL Milan CZE Moto Racing Group +46'51
10 CORNEJO José CHI XRaids +49'20
 

John Bitting

Administrator
Afriquia Merzouga Rally
2016 season Stage 3
Kevin Benavides wins the third stage of the Merzouga Rally
Team HRC’s Argentinean rider Kevin Benavides snatched a noteworthy victory today in the third stage of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally, first part of Marathon stage that was finished at the Atlas mountains, in high altitude.

Kevin Benavides triumphed today in the marathon stage which was fought out between Merzouga and the bivouac situated in the Atlas region at some 1600 metres above sea level. The Argentine set off like a bat out of hell aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY and finished the special stage in first position. As a consequence, Benavides rockets to the third place of the overall with two stages still left to run.

Today turned out to be a veritable marathon stage. With 223 kilometres of special plus a lengthy liaison section, the competitors put in a total of 460 kilometres by the time the day was done. It was a tough day on which race authorities reduced the special, initially to CP3 (km 182) and later to (km 127) citing safety issues. Various riders crashed while the temperature soared to around 40 degrees and if that wasn’t enough, a sand storm blew up causing difficulties for the helicopters. For this reason the organisation decided to pull the plug and use the CP2 times at the refuelling point as the final finishing times.

Kevin’s fine result accompanied the seventh place of American rider Ricky Brabec, who found out today just how harsh the Merzouga navigation can be. He saw various minutes slip through his fingers due to an error interpreting the roadbook. In contrast to his adversaries, Brabec made it back to the bivouac after a crash-free ride with the bike in tip-top shape.

Tomorrow sees the second day of the marathon stage on day four. There will be a total of 311 kilometres to compete. The day’s special will include 204 km of timed special stage.

Ricky Brabec
STAGE: 7TH PROVISIONAL: 6TH
The special went well but the navigation was really difficult. We had a lot of trouble finding the waypoints. We were in sand dunes all day going back and forth, back and forth. I made a few mistakes and that cost me a bit of time. A lot of stones, rocks and sand… It wasn’t an easy stage. This desert is really tough. Who knows what will happen over the next few days, but we are achieving what we set out to do which is to gain experience and learn. We will carry on in the same way.


Kevin Benavides
STAGE: 1ST PROVISIONAL: 3RD
I’m really happy to have won the third stage. It was really tough, a very complicated course and difficult navigation. I tried to stay focussed on doing the job well and not making any mistakes. It went well and I caught up with the other riders ahead; I was able to overtake them in spite of all the dust that they were producing and I finished first. We will continue working to finish the rally well.


Roberto Boasso
Team Manager
I’m very pleased because the riders have done a great job. They listened carefully to all the advice on how to navigate well in this hard and dangerous special stage. Kenny went very quickly without any mistakes, winning the special and taking the leadership too. We are going step by step in the right direction. We are happy with this result and it has really made our day. Tomorrow, the second part of the marathon stage will be difficult but we will be very careful with the details. The team is working really hard to achieve the desired results.


Results Stage3
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC 3:24'05
2 RODRIGUES Helder POR Yamaha Motor Europe +3'29
3 SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team +6'42
4 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +9'59
5 FARRES Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team +12'39
6 CORNEJO José CHI XRaids +20'41
7 BRABEC Ricky USA Team HRC +33'47
8 THOMAS David RSA HT Husqvarna Rally Team +47'12
9 REIS Gonçalo POR Team Sol Posto +47'40
10 NOSIGLIA Daniel BOL HT Husqvarna Rally Team +50'44
11 RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +57'20
12 MEGRE David POR Team Megre Portugal +8:35'55
Rider Standings
PROVISIONAL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 3
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team 11:16'12
2 RODRIGUES Helder POR Yamaha Motor Europe +1'37
3 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC +3'43
4 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +7'08
5 FARRES Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team +9'34
6 BRABEC Ricky USA Team HRC +40'51
7 CORNEJO José CHI XRaids +1:03'19
8 NOSIGLIA Daniel BOL HT Husqvarna Rally Team +1:19'37
9 RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +2:09'18
10 REIS Gonçalo POR Team Sol Posto +2:18'09
 

John Bitting

Administrator
Afriquia Merzouga Rally
2016 season Stage 4
Kevin Benavides on course for an overall win after an impressive domination of the Merzouga Rally stage four
Team HRC Argentinean Kevin Benavides scored an emphatic triumph in the fourth stage of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally – the second part of the marathon – that leaves him poised to seal overall victory tomorrow.

It was domination from start to finish for Kevin Benavides, who led throughout on the Honda CRF450 RALLY in today’s penultimate battle. After yesterday’s crucial win, Benavides was the first to set out this morning in a special stage that had been reduced by 34 kilometres, with the start moved to CP1. A total of 170 km, filled with troublesome navigation, played out for the most part, on speedy off-piste track, but with some work in the dunes too. The result sees Kevin Benavides jump two positions on the leaderboard where he now holds a 3’05 advantage over the nearest second-place rival with just one day to go. Tomorrow kicks off with a motocross-style start, followed by two laps of a 37 km circuit.

Benavides’ Team HRC companion, Ricky Brabec (U.S.A) turned out a solid performance chalking up a splendid fifth place. Today the Californian did far better with the navigation and pace in a far-from-easy while-knuckle stage. He maintains his 6th place in the overall.

Ricky Brabec
STAGE: 5TH OVERALL: 6TH
Today was really good; one of the fastest days here. Navigation was way better for me today – for each note on the roadbook you had a little bit of space. It gave you time to think about the note and what was coming up next. It was unlike the first three days, which were very difficult for me. This is by far the trickiest roadbook that I have done. I’m learning a little bit. Out here it seems like you have to go slow to go faster. You can’t just go fast because if so, you just blow the corner and then you just lose time each time you do it. Today was good. Tomorrow is a motocross start, so maybe tomorrow on the second lap around I will put some time up on some riders because I will know where everything is and it will be more like a practice run.


Kevin Benavides
STAGE: 1ST PROVISIONAL: 1ST
Today has been the happiest of the race so far. Apart from the result, I’m really pleased because I opened the way and I finished first, without having any references out in front of me. It was difficult to navigate with a lot of off-road, many dangers and tracks that were impossible to find. I was able to mark a difference. I really believed in my chances; I was very focused and it all worked out well. Last night we slept in the high mountains for the marathon stage in a very distinct bivouac. I wish to thank Ricky Brabec who gave his exhaust pipe over to me, as mine was in bad shape. It has been great team-work. I’d also like to thank the whole team for the great job that they’ve done up until now. Let’s see how the stage tomorrow goes.


Roberto Boasso
Team Manager
I’m happy because today Kevin had a great stage, in first place the whole way, opening the way from start to finish, navigating well and riding fast. This means that he’s more confident in his riding and even more so when you consider that the rivals were trying to catch him up from behind. He’s been cool and calculating. He was helped yesterday by Brabec, who we’d like to thank on behalf of the team. This says a lot about the team and how united we are. Today’s result is, in part, thanks to Brabec and all the mechanics who have helped them reach their goals. Tomorrow won’t be easy. We are calm about it but the race finishes at the chequered flag. Let’s hope it goes well. Thanks to everyone, to Kevin and Ricky and all of those following us throughout the world.


Results stage 4
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC 2:19'35
2 FARRES Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team +6'18
3 SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team +6'48
4 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +8'11
5 BRABEC Ricky USA Team HRC +13'48
6 RODRIGUES Helder POR Yamaha Motor Europe +14'59
7 CORNEJO José CHI XRaids +16'11
8 RUOSO Alessandro ITA OffRoad Motors +31'02
9 MEGRE David POR Team Megre Portugal +31'45
10 ENGEL Milan CZE Moto Racing Group +34'14
Rider Standings
PROVISIONAL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 4
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC 13:39:30
2 SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team +3'05
3 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +11'36
4 FARRES Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team +12'09
5 RODRIGUES Helder POR Yamaha Motor Europe +12'53
6 BRABEC Ricky USA Team HRC +50'56
7 CORNEJO José CHI XRaids +1:15'46
 

John Bitting

Administrator

Afriquia Merzouga Rally

2016 season Stage 5
Kevin Benavides and Team HRC win the Merzouga Rally
Team HRC’s Argentinean rider Kevin Benavides has sealed overall victory in the Afriquia Merzouga Rally, which closed today in the dunes of Merzouga. Benavides kept the field in check after the motocross-style start, crossing the finishing-line in second place. Brabec posted sixth on the day as well as sixth in the general rankings.

It was the first race as part of the official HRC team and a first win too. The budding young Argentinean shone throughout the whole week and stormed to an overall triumph in the Afriquia Merzouga Rally. The back of the victory had been broken in the dunes of Morocco’s Erg Chebbi.

Benavides had placed himself in a virtually unbeatable position yesterday ahead of today’s final stage which got underway with a motocross-like start in the Lago Yasmina Erg Chebbi area. The wins in stages three and four consolidated the Argentine’s domination of the event and paved the way for today’s celebrations in the Team HRC camp.

This is the second time Team HRC have clinched the Merzouga Rally title. In 2013 it was Briton Sam Sunderland who took the Honda CRF450 RALLY to the top step of the rostrum.

Benavides’ Team HRC companion Ricky Brabec (U.S.A) wound up in sixth place overall, improving daily with such a steep learning curve of tough navigation. The apprenticeship in navigation has been the rider’s main goal over the course of the five-day rally.

The next outing for Team HRC will be the third round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, the Sardegna Rally Race. Kevin Benavides once again participates, this time under the auspices of Team RS Moto.

Kevin Benavides
STAGE: 2ND FINAL POSITION: 1ST
I’m really super-happy about my first race for Team HRC and to win has been something fantastic. I think that I had a great rally in spite of having a minor problem with the roadbook on the first day and the five-minute penalty that I picked up on the second. But the third day was a spectacular one and yesterday was the decisive stage. I was happy because I opened up a gap which allowed me to set off today in a more conservative way, with a good pace, but without going mad. I’m really pleased to have brought the team victory. I’m very happy to have started with a win and for the great team-work with Ricky. Also, it’s great to give Roberto Boasso his first win, because we both began with Team HRC at the same time. I shouldn’t forget about my mechanic Germán Olivares either, who looked after the bike or Martino Bianchi and Mariano Casaroli from Honda Argentina. Many thanks to all of you.


Ricky Brabec
STAGE: 6TH FINAL POSITION: 6TH
Today was the last day with a motocross or grand prix-style start. I rode well today; I got passed in the end by two people but I think the race was over for me yesterday as I was so far back in time. So, today was just to get through to the finish and get another rally finished. This is my fourth rally finish and I’m healthy. I’m excited as this is my second time with Honda when they have won. Winning is always great and it is good for Honda. I think that we have a strong team for Dakar so we’ll keep attacking for the whole year and be back for the Dakar 2017 and on the podium.


Roberto Boasso
Team Manager
I’m really so happy about Kevin’s win which has given victory to Honda. It’s great for Team HRC, Japan, Spain, the mechanics and also the people from HRC who were able to give us the spare parts sooner than we expected. Kevin has proved himself to be a very mature and cool-headed rider. He was able to put the penalization behind him and came back winning and that shows what a great competitor he is. I would like to thank Ricky Brabec for the great work that he has done during the race and also everyone at Honda for believing in us. This is just the beginning and we won’t have time to relax because there is a lot of work still to be done. Thanks to all of you.


Results Stage 5
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe 1:21'31
2 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC +1'39
3 SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team +2'06
4 REIS Gonçalo POR Team Sol Posto +2'42
5 RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +2'43
6 BRABEC Ricky USA Team HRC +2'46
7 RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +5'26
8 FARRES Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team +5'27
9 CORNEJO José CHI XRaids +5'28
10 OLIVEIRA Pedro POR CRN Competition +5'31
Rider Standings
FINAL STANDINGS AFRIQUIA MERZOUGA RALLY 2016
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC 15:02'40
2 SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team +3'32
3 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +9'57
4 FARRES Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team +15'57
5 RODRIGUES Helder POR Yamaha Motor Europe +16'40
6 BRABEC Ricky USA Team HRC +52'03
 

John Bitting

Administrator
Merzouga Rally turns up the heat on Dakar preparations



Fomer Merzouga Rally winner Hélder Rodrigues © Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool




Friday, May 27, 2016
Merzouga, Morocco

The ultra-tough six-day Merzouga Rally has finally come to an end after 1,000km of timed racing through the deserts of Morocco. Hélder Rodrigues, a familiar face with rally-raid fans around the world, came close to a second podium finish of the season as harsh conditions pushed man and machine to the limit.

Extreme heat in excess of 40 degrees and perilous dune crossings characterised the offroad contest in North Africa, part of the 2016 Dakar Series. As a former Merzouga winner the challenges may not have come as a surprise to Hélder, but it was clear from the outset he would have to be at his best to get the better of a world class field of opponents.

Faultless riding on the first three days of the event propelled Hélder to second place in the overall classification amid dramatic sandstorms out on the course. Stage four saw the Portuguese rider suffer a setback as he lost his way during one of the Merzouga’s many navigational tests. Hélder battled back from this disappointment, attempting to reestablish himself on the podium during a loop of the Yasmina dry lake on the final day of racing.

It was also a bittersweet ride for fellow Red Bull Desert Wings squad member CS Santosh. A stunning Top 10 result in the Prologue Stage put the Merzouga rookie in the first wave of riders opening the road as the rally headed out into the dunes. Santosh fell victim to the tough navigational challenges within the dunes and dropped down the rankings as a result.

The Indian biker was able to gradually climb the leaderboard during the remaining four days of racing, all the while gaining valuable Dakar Rally experience as he plans a return visit to South America in 2017.

The Merzouga Rally also served as a great learning experience for the next generation of rally-raid bikers as they contested the Dakar Challenge. The Dakar’s own Sporting Director (and five-time winner of the race) Marc Coma was on hand every step of the way to guide emerging talents through the week-long event.

Be it Hélder challenging for top honours, Santosh climbing his way up the leaderboard or fresh talents learning the rally-raid ropes – we salute all the brave bikers who made it over the line at the 2016 Merzouga Rally.

For more information on the Merzouga Rally visit: merzougarally.com




CS Santosh © Ali Bharmal/Red Bull Content Pool





CS Santosh © Ali Bharmal/Red Bull Content Pool





Hélder Rodrigues © Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool


Quotes

Hélder Rodrigues: “I put a lot into the third stage where I managed to climb to second in the overall. Unfortunately, 120km into the fourth special stage I made a navigational mistake, which forced me to lose a lot of time. I believe this rally has been the perfect test for us. We've learned a lot, and we continue to get stronger as the races go on. I have a great feeling on my bike so I'm really looking forward to the races to come.”

CS Santosh: “Wednesday was one of the toughest days of racing I’ve had. The organisers told us it was going to be demanding and it sure was. Things were eventually cut short because of the weather and this was the right decision. When we started racing again things were going well, but then I made a mistake in the navigation and that cost me a lot of time.”


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