As the Morocco Rally finishes, so does Monster Energy Honda Team’s participation in the 2018 FIM Cross-Country World Championship and the lengthy team preparations ahead of the greatest challenge to both man and machine: the Dakar Rally. The work, however, continues.
Riders from the Monster Energy Honda Team will now get to take advantage of a few days off after the conclusion of the Morocco Rally before returning to begin fitness training and preparations for the Dakar Rally. It has been a busy third term for the squad who have juggled a packed agenda which has included the Atacama Rally, the Desafío Ruta 40, the Desafío Inca and the Morocco Rally.
After grabbing top honours in the three races held in South America, the result of the more demanding Morocco Rally proved less spectacular, yet both team and riders come away with positive conclusions. The new race organization had brought a series of changes that upped the difficulty level and complicated yet further the navigation. The race forced riders to endure five days with minimum error margins over long swathes of off-piste racing covering mainly heavily stony ground. Several falls during the race forced the team to take a more prudent approach so as to avoid major injuries.
It was precisely Paulo Gonçalves who, no sooner than entering into contention for the race, fell and was forced to opt for a more cautious finish to try and escape any serious injuries. Monster Energy Honda Team’s Portuguese rider finished fifth overall in the Morocco Rally and ended fourth in the 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship table.
Ricky Brabec claimed fifth spot on the final overall world championship leader board, although the American scored an above-satisfactory result with the third place in the final race which he rounded off in style with a final stage victory in Morocco.
One of the falls that caused a retirement was that of Kevin Benavides. The Argentine Monster Energy Honda Team rider took a hard hit in the leg and although the first prognosis looked alarming, the result turned out to little more than concussion which should see the rider back to full fitness in a matter of days. Kevin finished sixth overall in this world championship.
Meanwhile young Chilean hopeful José Ignacio Cornejo, who finished ninth overall in spite of not having participated in all the events, took runner-up spot in the junior category. The rider has shown great progress both in riding and navigation. In Morocco he finished in eighth place with a best stage result of seventh spot in the first stage.
Spanish rider Joan Barreda who didn’t participate in the 2018 World Championship is now recovered from the injury and subsequent left wrist operation and is once again back in the saddle getting the sensations of the Honda CRF450 RALLY before the 2019 Dakar gets underway.
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