Team HRC’s Argentinean rider Kevin Benavides has sealed overall victory in the Afriquia Merzouga Rally, which closed today in the dunes of Merzouga. Benavides kept the field in check after the motocross-style start, crossing the finishing-line in second place. Brabec posted sixth on the day as well as sixth in the general rankings.
It was the first race as part of the official HRC team and a first win too. The budding young Argentinean shone throughout the whole week and stormed to an overall triumph in the Afriquia Merzouga Rally. The back of the victory had been broken in the dunes of Morocco’s Erg Chebbi.
Benavides had placed himself in a virtually unbeatable position yesterday ahead of today’s final stage which got underway with a motocross-like start in the Lago Yasmina Erg Chebbi area. The wins in stages three and four consolidated the Argentine’s domination of the event and paved the way for today’s celebrations in the Team HRC camp.
This is the second time Team HRC have clinched the Merzouga Rally title. In 2013 it was Briton Sam Sunderland who took the Honda CRF450 RALLY to the top step of the rostrum.
Benavides’ Team HRC companion Ricky Brabec (U.S.A) wound up in sixth place overall, improving daily with such a steep learning curve of tough navigation. The apprenticeship in navigation has been the rider’s main goal over the course of the five-day rally.
The next outing for Team HRC will be the third round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, the Sardegna Rally Race. Kevin Benavides once again participates, this time under the auspices of Team RS Moto.
Results Stage 5
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap 1 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe 1:21’31 2 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC +1’39 3 SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team +2’06 4 REIS Gonçalo POR Team Sol Posto +2’42 5 RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +2’43 6 BRABEC Ricky USA Team HRC +2’46 7 RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +5’26 8 FARRES Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team +5’27 9 CORNEJO José CHI XRaids +5’28 10 OLIVEIRA Pedro POR CRN Competition +5’31 Rider Standings
FINAL STANDINGS AFRIQUIA MERZOUGA RALLY 2016
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap 1 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC 15:02’40 2 SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team +3’32 3 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +9’57 4 FARRES Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team +15’57 5 RODRIGUES Helder POR Yamaha Motor Europe +16’40 6 BRABEC Ricky USA Team HRC +52’03 7 CORNEJO José CHI XRaids +1:19’35 8 NOSIGLIA Daniel BOL HT Husqvarna Rally Team +2:14’34 9 RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +2:46’28 10 REIS Gonçalo POR Team Sol Posto +3:02’59