Team HRC’s two youngest riders, American Ricky Brabec and Argentine Kevin Benavides, are all set to tackle the first challenge of the season: the Afriquia Merzouga Rally, which starts on Monday.
Kevin Benavides, after having posted a brilliant fourth place on his Rally Dakar 2016 debut earlier this, will line up alongside fellow Dakar rookie Ricky Brabec, who finished ninth. Benavides, just five minutes shy of a Dakar podium place, has been chosen along with Brabec to represent a revamped Team HRC, back in competition with the first date of the Dakar Series: the Afriquia Merzouga Rally.
The race, which Team HRC won in 2013 with Sam Sunderland, is one of the trickiest in the calendar, and is renowned for its highly-demanding navigation. The rally should prove to be a steep learning curve for both Brabec and Benavides.
The Merzouga Rally will give Ricky Brabec, USA, his first taste of racing on African soil. For Kevin Benavides, Argentina, this will be the second occasion in which he competes in Morocco, after having scored a notable fourth place there in October last year.
The Afriquia Merzouga Rally will be held in the surroundings of Merzouga and Erg Chebbi, from Monday, May 23 until Friday, May 27. It will consist of five stages plus a prologue to take place on Sunday afternoon and will also include a marathon stage, during which, riders will not be allowed to make any mechanical repairs to the bikes. The final day’s racing will commence with a spectacular Le Mans-style start. The route is a total of 1,519 kilometres, 972 of them are special stage.