Monster Energy Honda Team reconvenes for the Rallye du Maroc
Monster Energy Honda Team have not assembled their full squad since the 2021 Dakar Rally ended back in January. The winning team from the last edition are once again poised to restart the action with the Rallye du Maroc, the final dress rehearsal before the imminent 2022 Dakar Rally.
Nine months have now passed since the entire Monster Energy Honda Team waved goodbye to their members after pulling off a one-two triumph in the 2021 Dakar Rally. In the interim period, the team have clinched top honours in the Sonora Rally and the Andalucía Rally, as well as competing in other races aimed specifically at personal preparation such as the Vegas to Reno race, the Baja Aragón and the Atacama Rally, claiming victory in the latter two. Since then, preparations have continued with riders training in their habitual areas, while the mechanics have prepared the Honda CRF450 RALLYs to enable the whole Monster Energy Honda Team outfit to compete together in the Moroccan prelude to the 2022 Dakar Rally: the Rallye du Maroc.
American Ricky Brabec will sport the #4 on the fairings of his bike. The winner of the 2020 Dakar and runner-up in 2021, will be one of the firm favourites, but won’t be the only Monster Energy Honda Team contender bidding for the prize.
José Ignacio Cornejo also looks set to excel as he did in the most recent Dakar. All eyes will be on the Chilean – now back to full fitness – whose Honda will adorn the #6.
Although debuting with a notable result in the Andalucía Rally, Chilean Pablo Quintanilla will also be looking to gain confidence and establish himself aboard the new machine and will be among the favourites in the Rallye du Maroc. Keep an eye on the #7.
Last in order, but not in importance is Joan Barreda. Bang Bang, who scooped the top prize in the Andalucia Rally, will be hoping to maintain his high-level output as he goes in the hunt for a place on the podium. He will be adorning his lucky #88.
The Rallye du Maroc, which is also a points-paying event in the FIM Cross-Country Rally World Championship, will be held from 7-13 September in the Zagora area in the south of the country. The rally will consist of a prologue and five stages totalling 2,681 kilometres, including 1,633 kilometres against the clock. The event will play out over terrain made up of 10% track, 20% dunes and the remaining 70% in open desert, meaning that navigation should play a major role in the race outcome.
We made it to Morocco. It’s been two years since we were last here. Unfortunately Covid slowed us down. We’re here a little bit early, doing some roadbook work and testing of the motorcycle. It’s great to be back here with the team. There’s nothing on the line, so we don’t want to get hurt. We’re just here practicing and I think that showtime for all the riders will be in Saudia Arabia. So for now we’re watching our roadbooks and enjoying the Moroccan desert.
José Ignacio Cornejo
I’m very happy to be back in Morocco after two years, to meet up with the team again, as we haven’t been able to get together during the year. We test the bike a bit before the race, to gain confidence with the desert here, which is very hard. We will try to have a constant, solid race and minimise possible mistakes. We need to check that everything is fine so that we arrive at the Dakar with the right set-up. This is the main objective. We’re not under any pressure, because we’re not competing in the world championship either, so… let’s enjoy the race!
There is always a desire to race. It’s been a strange year and we haven’t been able to compete like we used to. We have been training and doing some tests during the year, but this race is really the prelude to the Dakar Rally and it will show us the direction we are going in and if we need to change anything in terms of training. It will be my second race with the Monster Energy Honda Team, but the first one with the whole team together. I’m getting to know the whole team and I’m very motivated to take part in this race.
The truth is that we are very anxious to be able to participate in this Rallye du Maroc after almost two years without being able to compete here in Morocco because of the pandemic. Fortunately, this year we were able to race in the Andalucía Rally and in the Baja Aragón, where I won both races; they are not just another part of the preparation for the Dakar. But the Rallye du Maroc is the big pre-Dakar, so we are going to approach it in the correct way and do as many kilometres as possible to get into the swing of the race to be able to fully prepare for Saudi Arabia.
It is very important for us to be here again in Morocco, after more than a year’s absence due to the COVID-19 issue. First of all, I would like to congratulate the organisation, who have been fighting for us to be able to organise this race. From my point of view, it is the most important race after the Dakar because we are taking part with the full preparation ahead of the Dakar. The riders will be following the new Dakar rules for the first time. This time we have the four team riders and part of the team structure that will go to Saudi Arabia next January. It will be a good time to grease the machinery and get the whole team set up. The main objective is to race without problems, without any crashes and to leave here with a bike ready to race and with the riders all in one piece and after having done many kilometres of navigation, because it will be a key issue at next races. We are not too worried about the final result of the race because, on the one hand, we are not competing in the world championship and on the other, we are very close to the Dakar. For me, the team is great, we are working well together and we are going to be careful in the run-up to what for us is the most important race of the year.
Morocco has always been a land of rally raid. The story began in 1982 with the arrival of Paris-Agadir, the first rally raid to run in Morocco. The following year, the rally took the name of ‘Atlas Rally’ and became the flagship rally to the Rally Raids calendar. The Atlas… read more.
Winner 2020 Cancelled due the COVID-19 Pandemic
Winner 2019 Toby Price (KTM)
Winner 2018 Toby Price (KTM)
Winner 2017 Matthias Walkner (KTM)
Winnner 2016 Toby Price (KTM)
Winner 2015 Sam Sunderland (KTM)
Winner 2014 Marc Coma (KTM)
Winner 2013 Paulo Gonçalves (Honda)
Winner 2012 Cyril Despres (KTM)