A tricky yet positive day for Monster Energy Honda Team on the penultimate day of the Merzouga Rally. Joan Barreda continues to command the race overall, while Kevin Benavides performed well on the day, finishing the stage in first place and confirming his second place in the general standings.
With just the final day of the Merzouga Rally still to run, Joan Barreda is in a solid position to claim overall victory tomorrow. Today saw the fourth stage – the second leg of the marathon stage – in which riders were unable to receive mechanical assistance until they arrived back at the Tombouctou Hotel camp once the 372-kilometre stage had been completed. The stage served up a combination of dunes, sands, stony ground and trial-like areas. On the way riders had to tackle dust-filled Moroccan track and a final section which caused many riders serious navigation problems with the main group riding around in circles in search of an elusive waypoint. This afternoon race authorities decided to cancel the final section of the course.
Joan Barreda, starting out from first place, was eventually caught by Kevin Benavides, who battled hard throughout the day. The pair rode virtually together until the final waypoint where they were reached by another group of competitors including Brabec and Cornejo. Barreda finished the day eighth while Benavides was the fastest rider winning his third stage of the rally so far. American Ricky Brabec turned out his best performance to date with a second place finish. Paulo Gonçalves, who started from behind was able to make up time to finish seventh on the day. José Ignacio Cornejo’s stage was inconvenienced by a navigation error which saw him finish seventeenth.
The final stage of this Merzouga Rally will have a motocross style start in line before completing a full loop in the Erg Chebbi. The motorcycle riders will start out after the buggies and quads on a 206.71-kilometre stage, 100% of which will be fought out in the dunes.
Results stage 4
|1||Benavides Kevin||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||3:07'14|
|2||Brabec Ricky||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+0'12|
|3||Pedrero Joan||SPA||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||Sherco||+0'56|
|4||Correia Luis||POR||Team Correia||Yamaha||+1'22|
|5||Svitko Stefan||SLO||Slovnaft Team||KTM||+1'51|
|6||Quintanilla Pablo||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+4'17|
|7||Goncalves Paulo||POR||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+5'51|
|8||Barreda Joan||SPA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+6'18|
|9||Caimi Franco||ARG||Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team||Yamaha||+6'29|
|10||Price Toby||AUS||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+7'25|
|11||Botturi Alessandro||ITA||Botturi Racing||Yamaha||+9'11|
|12||Duplessis Martín||ARG||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||Sherco||+9'49|
|13||Short Andrew||USA||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+10'15|
|14||Cerutti Jacopo||ITA||Moto Racing Group - MRG||Husqvarna||+14'11|
|15||Gerini Maurizio||42||ITA||Solarys Racing||Husqvarna||+20'04|
|17||Cornejo José Ignacio||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+20'30|
Provisional Standings after Stage 4
|1||Barreda Joan||SPA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||12:49'41|
|2||Benavides Kevin||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+6'33|
|3||Quintanilla Pablo||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+11'51|
|4||Caimi Franco||ARG||Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team||Yamaha||+18'33|
|5||Brabec Ricky||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+19'47|
|6||Price Toby||AUS||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+21'24|
|7||Pedrero Joan||SPA||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||Sherco||+26'43|
|8||Cornejo José Ignacio||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+42'21|
|9||Svitko Stefan||SLO||Slovnaft Team||KTM||+50'22|
|10||Duplessis Martín||ARG||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||Sherco||+59'56|
|12||Goncalves Paulo||POR||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+1:08'37|