Monster Energy Honda Team on the starting line for the Merzouga Rally. Kevin Benavides, fastest in the prologue
Morocco gave the starting signal today as the Merzouga Rally – the second race of the season – got underway for Monster Energy Honda Team. With the mandatory administrative and technical scrutineering behind them, riders this afternoon moved on to the curtain-raising event, a brief five-kilometre prologue that kicked off the action.
Kevin Benavides, behind the bars of the Honda CRF450 RALLY, proved to be the fastest rider of the eighty entrants in the motorcycle category. Paulo Gonçalves posted third place while team-mates Ricky Brabec and José Ignacio Cornejo finished the day 10th and 11th respectively. Joan Barreda, back in his first competition since a wrist operation, rode a prudent race to finish in sixteenth position.
The top fifteen finishers get to choose their starting positions for tomorrow’s first full stage. Over the course of the day competitors will have to tackle some 206.71 kilometres of special stage.
I felt good and confident on the bike and I was quick in this short five-kilometre prologue. I think it is important, as it’s always good to start any race well. Let’s see how tomorrow’s first stage plays out.
We have started quite well. I took the prologue a quite a fast pace, which allows me to get a good starting position for tomorrow. The race is expected to be difficult, and I will be hoping to reach the end without any problems – that is my aim in this race.
Today we had the first contact with the race with this short, but technical stage in the dunes of Merzouga. I took these first kilometres calmly so that I will be at my best for the forthcoming stages which will have a lot of navigation.
Here we are in Morocco for the Merzouga Rally. Today we had a short five-kilometre prologue that got us started and gave us our first feel of the dunes. I’m looking forward to the first full stage tomorrow. I hope the race goes well, both for me and the team and that everyone has a safe race.
José Ignacio Cornejo
This short prologue has given us a good warm up and loosen up a little on board the bike. I felt good and I did not make mistakes, which is the most important thing here if you want to have a good race. Let’s see how things go and good luck to the team.