|The final stage of the Morocco Rally wrapped up today with another double for the Monster Energy Honda Team on the final podium. Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec, who had been in the running for overall victory, settled for second and third spots in the final round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.
This morning the Monster Energy Honda Team duo started out with the conviction that they could get a result in the dunes of the Erg Chebbi on a route which ran northbound towards the dunes of Merzouga. The stage featured 163 kilometres of timed section plus an additional 8.65 kilometres, before the competition concluded in the small dunes in the north of Erfoud next to the Hotel Xaluca complex.
Kevin Benavides went in search of victory throughout the race, aware that in doing so, he could also snatch the world title. However, a minor error was enough to miss out on the chance of winning the special. The second position in the OiLibya Morocco Rally means that the Argentinean rider seals runner-up spot in the overall world championship standings.
Benavides’ team-mate in the Monster Energy Honda Team, Ricky Brabec, shone once again today, after having clinched a first ever world championship win in the rally. The American finished second on the day, triumphing in the second special after having finished the first one in runner-up position. Brabec thus finished in third in the rally’s general rankings, gaining him a first-time podium place in a race whose points count towards the world championship.
Monster Energy Honda Team has fought very hard throughout this Morocco Rally to grab the overall victory in the rally. Of their initial formation of four riders, Frenchman Michael Metge had been unable to take the start after a viral infection that saw him forced to return home on the first day of racing. Meanwhile, Paulo Gonçalves also returned to his home in Esposende ahead of schedule. The Portuguese, who had arrived in Fez as a potential contender just five points behind the leader of the overall championship, suffered a fall during the second stage injuring his right hand. The pain forced him to retire after finishing the third day of racing.
Monster Energy Honda Team will participate tomorrow in a private testing session before finally leaving the motorcycles all set up and ready to embark for South America at the end of next November.