Team HRC’s Argentinean rider Kevin Benavides snatched a noteworthy victory today in the third stage of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally, first part of Marathon stage that was finished at the Atlas mountain
Kevin Benavides triumphed today in the marathon stage which was fought out between Merzouga and the bivouac situated in the Atlas region at some 1600 metres above sea level. The Argentine set off like a bat out of hell aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY and finished the special stage in first position. As a consequence, Benavides rockets to the third place of the overall with two stages still left to run.
Today turned out to be a veritable marathon stage. With 223 kilometres of special plus a lengthy liaison section, the competitors put in a total of 460 kilometres by the time the day was done. It was a tough day on which race authorities reduced the special, initially to CP3 (km 182) and later to (km 127) citing safety issues. Various riders crashed while the temperature soared to around 40 degrees and if that wasn’t enough, a sand storm blew up causing difficulties for the helicopters. For this reason the organisation decided to pull the plug and use the CP2 times at the refuelling point as the final finishing times.
Kevin’s fine result accompanied the seventh place of American rider Ricky Brabec, who found out today just how harsh the Merzouga navigation can be. He saw various minutes slip through his fingers due to an error interpreting the roadbook. In contrast to his adversaries, Brabec made it back to the bivouac after a crash-free ride with the bike in tip-top shape.
Tomorrow sees the second day of the marathon stage on day four. There will be a total of 311 kilometres to compete. The day’s special will include 204 km of timed special stage.