After getting the 2018 World Championship season off and running in Abu Dhabi, Monster Energy Honda Team now set their sights on the Merzouga Rally in Morocco, with the participation of all the team’s big guns including Joan Barreda.
Kevin Benavides, Paulo Gonçalves, Joan Barreda, Ricky Brabec and José Ignacio Cornejo are the five riders scheduled to take the start of the second round of the season for Monster Energy Honda Team.
The team, looking to clock up more mileage and testing experience, will be joined by Joan Barreda, now in the final recovery phase after undergoing a wrist operation in mid-February 2018. Likewise, Portuguese stalwart Paulo Gonçalves will take the opportunity to improve physically after posting a respectable fifth in Abu Dhabi on his return from injury. For Kevin Benavides – winner of the 2016 edition of the Merzouga Rally – this will be another chance to put his full potential on display. Lining up alongside them will be two of the team’s emerging talents, American Ricky Brabec and Chilean Nacho Cornejo.
The Merzouga Rally is due to kick off on April 15th in the striking dunes of Merzouga with a short five-kilometre prologue once the administrative and technical checks are out of the way. Over the five subsequent stages, the race organization has prepared a selection of routes which will cover a total of approximately 1000 kilometres. The final day will take place in the dunes of Merzouga with a spectacular motocross-style start with riders setting off in line.
The official Honda team has won the race on two occasions: in 2013, with Sunderland and, as mentioned above, the 2016 edition, where Kevin Benavides claimed the overall victory and Ricky Brabec took sixth place.