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.