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Double podium places for Monster Energy Honda Team in the Morocco Rally

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.

Kevin Benavides

STAGE: 6TH  FINAL STANDINGS: 2ND

This Moroccan Rally has been a good rally for me. I did the best I could, thinking that I might reach fourth position in the World Championship and in the end I finished runner-up, after a bad start to the season, as I was still carrying the hand injury. That’s why I’m happy because I’ve had a great end to the season. Today I gave it the maximum, but I made a small roadbook error when I was going at a fast speed, but I’m happy nevertheless. Of the last four races, I was always on the podium: a win, two seconds and a third, and the most important thing is the consistency that we’ve been having lately. We will continue working because there are three months left before the Dakar, and although the bike has not given any type of problem, we will continue with some testing the next few days. I also want to thank the whole team for their great work in these races and especially my team-mates Paulo Gonçalves, who I hope will recover soon, and also Ricky Brabec, for his first podium in a word championship race.

Kevin Benavides

Ricky Brabec

STAGE: 2ND  FINAL STANDINGS: 3RD

I started off with a cold and sweating and getting hot for no reason; stuffy nose, sore throat. It’s been tough. It was tough for the first few days but I was able to get my stuff together. Eventually I made it happen and got my first podium in a professional world championship rally. That’s pretty big for me. It’s gonna make the plane ride home a little bit better, knowing that I did pretty well. So I’m happy. For this we’ve had a very good experience going towards the Dakar. We have a very strong team despite some problems. The whole team wasn’t here, but I think that Honda can take some Dakar podiums. The bike ran perfectly and we didn’t have to change anything except the tyres. Thanks to my mechanic Hide. He’s amazing. Thanks to the whole team for setting up a good spec for me and now we’ll push forwards towards the Dakar.

Ricky Brabec

Raul Castells

Monster Energy Honda Team Manager

Our race preparation for the Dakar has concluded after the Rally of Morocco. We are happy and we want to congratulate the riders for the results. It is clear that without them this could not happen. Kevin and Ricky got a double on the podium. It’s a shame that Paulo had to go home from a hand injury and we also hope he can soon get back on the bike. Michael Metge had to go home early after he got flu. Everything has worked out very well. We fought until the end for the world championship, which wasn’t to be, although it was not really our goal, which is the Dakar. Now we are going to prepare this race, after seeing that everything is working well. We are doing things well and we must congratulate the team and Honda Japan and HRC, because thanks to their great support, the bike is getting better every day. I also want to mention also all the sponsors who have supported us so well: Monster, Motul, Showa, Michelin, Givi, Termignoni … Finally, congratulations to Pablo Quintanilla for having made a good championship and for getting the word title. Congratulations to him and his team.

Raul Castells

Stage 5A results

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team 1:43’46
2 BRABEC Ricky USA Monster Energy Honda Team +2’31
3 MEO Antoine FRA KTM Factory Racing Team +2’59
4 QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +4’09
5 PEDRERO Joan SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +5’10
6 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team +6’38
7 METGE Adrien FRA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +7’09
8 SANTOLINO Lorenzo SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +7’35
9 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +8’23
10 BOTTURI Alessandro ITA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +10’26
11 ARANA Txomin SPA GOR Sport +15’29
12 SHORT Andrew USA Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +15’50
13 SANZ Laia SPA KTM Factory Racing Team +16’46
14 ESPAÑA Cristian AND 1ForAll Motorsport +17’12
15 RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +17’36

Stage 5B results

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 BRABEC Ricky USA Monster Energy Honda Team 6’28
2 METGE Adrien FRA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +0’31
3 BOTTURI Alessandro ITA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +0’35
4 SANZ Laia SPA KTM Factory Racing Team +0’41
5 PATRAO Mario POR KTM Portugal +0’48
6 QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +0’49
7 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team +1’06
8 PEDRERO Joan SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +1’06
9 MEO Antoine FRA KTM Factory Racing Team +1’09
10 WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team +1’11
11 AUBERT Johnny FRA 1ForAll Motorsport +1’12
12 MINAUDIER Loïc FRA Nomade Racing +1’24
13 SHORT Andrew USA Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +1’27
14 CHUNCHUNGGUPPE S Santosh IND Hero Motorsports Team Rally +1’33
15 RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +1’36

Rider Standings

FINAL STANDINGS (AFTER STAGE 5)

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team 10:03’49
2 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team +13’42
3 BRABEC Ricky USA Monster Energy Honda Team +16’58
4 MEO Antoine FRA KTM Factory Racing Team +18’27
5 PEDRERO Joan SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +22’28
6 METGE Adrien FRA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +36’52
7 QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +37’22
8 RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +44’29
9 SANZ Laia SPA KTM Factory Racing Team +44’52
10 SANTOLINO Lorenzo SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +54’30

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