Benavides wins the second stage from Quintanilla, Barreda leads overall after two stages of the 2018 Merzouga Rally. 

 

Argentinean Kevin Benevides was the fastest rider in the Merzouga Rally at the end of stage two. After winning the prologue, Benevides had an error-free second stage to move into second place overall, behind team-mate Joan Barreda. 

“I felt very good today, I went out to attack." Said Benevides after the stage. "I saw the riders in front and over the final kilometres of dunes I wanted to attack but something made me think about not forcing and not risking to finish the stage safe.”

The short 175.3km timed special of stage two of the Merzouga Rally saw riders head into the desert east of the small town of Merzouga. The route was made up of two loops, separated by a 15-minute neutralisation. Comprising a mixture of dunes and faster tracks, the stage still required careful navigation in order to post a good time. 

 

Rally World Champion third overall

Pablo Quintanilla also enjoyed a mistake-free timed special to come home in second. Reaching the leading riders after the halfway mark, the reigning Cross-Country Rallies World Champion sits third overall. 

 

Pablo Quintanilla Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Enduro21 560

 

“We had a very early start this morning and in the first dunes it was difficult to see if another rider was in front.” Said Quintanilla.  

“Around the 120km mark I caught the leading group of riders and continued to open the tracks for the remainder of the special stage. I made no mistakes and felt fast from start to finish. My navigation was also on point and this is crucial in such conditions.”

 

Price recovers from day one errors

Toby Price kept his head down after the early start and concentrated, keen to not repeat the navigation errors he made on Monday’s stage one. At the finish, Price posted the third fastest time, just over three-minutes down on the leader.

 

Toby Price Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 2018 Merzouga Rally Enduro21 560

Photo Credit: Marcin Kin

 

“It was a good day today, especially after having such a tough day yesterday.” Said the former Dakar winner, Price. 

“I just nailed each section and tried not to make the same mistakes as yesterday. After making a mistake like yesterday, you lose confidence in your road book, so today was all about building that confidence up again and getting a solid result.”

Tomorrow, rally stage three, sees the start of the marathon stage – two days riding without overnight assistance – which will feature a 63-kilometre liaison and a 239.21-kilometre special stage against the clock. Riders will spend the night camped at the foot of the dunes and will receive no mechanical assistance.

 

2018 Merzouga Rally – Stage 2 Classification 

  1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 02:41:54 
  2. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 02:44:10 
  3. Toby Price (KTM) 02:45:35 
  4. Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 02:49:36 
  5. Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 02:50:04 
  6. Joan Barreda (Honda) 02:50:11

2018 Merzouga Rally – Unofficial Overall Classification [After Stage 2] 

  1. Joan Barreda (Honda) 06:12:27 
  2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 06:16:03 
  3. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 06:17:20 
  4. Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 06:19:28 
  5. Toby Price (KTM) 06:21:55 
  6. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 06:23:48

 

jon.pearson enduro21 april 2017

Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester
jon.pearson@enduro21.com