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.

Kevin Benavides

Kevin Benavides

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.

Monster Energy Honda Team
Paulo Goncalves

Paulo Goncalves

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.

Monster Energy Honda Team
Joan Barreda

Joan Barreda

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.

Monster Energy Honda Team
Ricky Brabec

Ricky Brabec

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.

Monster Energy Honda Team
José Ignacio Cornejo

José Ignacio Cornejo 68

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.

Monster Energy Honda Team
Merzouga Rally

Afriquia Merzouga Rally, Morocco

Rally 2018

Monday 16 Apr 2018, 01:00 UTC
# Rider Num Nationality Nat. Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 Kevin Benavides ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 5'25
2 Toby Price 8 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +0'03
3 Paulo Goncalves POR Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +0'17
4 Joan Pedrero 17 SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +0'20
5 Lorenzo Santolino SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +0'21
6 Laia Sanz 12 SPA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team KTM +0'24
7 Franco Caimi 7 ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +0'26
8 Pablo Quintanilla 10 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +0'30
9 Stefan Svitko SLK Slovnaft Team KTM +0'30
10 Ricky Brabec USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +0'31
11 José Ignacio Cornejo 68 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +0'33
12 Jacopo Cerutti ITA Moto Racing Group Husqvarna +0'37
13 Oriol Mena SPA Hero Motorsports Team Rally Hero +0'39
14 Andrew Short USA Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +0'42
15 Martín Duplessis ARG Honda Argentina – MEC Team Honda +0'50
16 Joan Barreda SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +0'53