The tenth edition of the OiLibya Morocco Rally got underway at midday today with the dispute of the short prologue, prior to the start of the first full stage tomorrow. The Monster Energy Honda Team performed well at the event’s curtain-raiser – a tricky route providing a few surprise hazards.
Neither the administrative nor the technical checks proved to be an obstacle for the riders and bikes of Monster Energy Honda Team who were given the green light to take the start of the twelve-kilometre prologue around Fez.
Kevin Benavides was the fastest of the team riders, posting a respectable sixth, despite not having forced the machine in a prologue that contained more dangers than had previously been expected. The Argentine will start in fifth position tomorrow. Partner American Ricky Brabec was ninth, eleven seconds behind Kevin, without really pushing the bike to the limit. Paulo Gonçalves, second in the provisional world championship standings, made a slight error that cost him half a minute. The Portuguese rider is in sixth starting position for the first full stage of the Morocco Rally.
Frenchman Michael Metge, however, was unable to make the start after having contracted a viral infection and was advised by specialists to rest. Metge returned today from Fez to his place of residence to undergo treatment and should to be back on the bike fairly soon.
Tomorrow, Friday, riders will face the first full stage of this OiLibya Morocco Rally, which will the longest in total length, although not the lengthiest timed special stage, which is yet to come. The rally will head south and is scheduled to include some stretches of stony terrain as well as sinuous fast track. The route takes in dry river-bed crossings and ‘oueds’. Before arriving in Erfoud the competitors will have to negotiate a tough navigation section over a stage that totals more than 850 kilometres. The 272.8 kilometre timed section will decide the first overall race leader.