HRC Rally’s newest signing Kevin Benavides sets the pace during the first day of action at the Merzouga Rally with victory in the prologue.
The familiar engine roar is back in the Moroccan Desert. After a warm-up session on a 37-kilometre route, where the 122 competitors had a first taste of the terrains they will tackle in the rally, the Prologue kicked off at 6pm.
A three-kilometre loop with road book in the sand dunes of Merzouga was the first challenge to decide the starting order of the first stage.
It’s early to place the bets, but the results of the Prologue tell us that the first leaders in the Bike category are 27-year-old Kevin Benavides (HRC), who set the fastest time (3’12), Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) second (3’13) and Ricky Brabec (HRC) third with 3’17.
Ruben Faria (Husqvarna) and Sefan Svitko (KTM) completed the top 5 while Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) finished 6th.
“The race starts tomorrow but it was important to win the Prologue and to have a good starting position. I had a good pace and the feeling with the bike was good. I’m excited and I aim at doing well,” said Kevin Benavides, who started his first race with the official HRC colours.
It was a great satisfaction for the Hero Motorcycle team to have Joaquim Rodriguez leading the Dakar Challenge provisional standings.
The first top 15 riders in the prologue will take the start of the SS1 tomorrow in reverse order. The first bike will start at 07:45.
Merzouga Rally – Provisional standing
1 Kevin Benavides (Honda)
2 Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha)
3 Ricky Brabeck (Honda)
1 Eduard Lopez Arcos (Bmw)
1 Juan Miguel Medero / Javier Ventaja (Polaris)
2 Henrichy – Bersey (Polaris)
3 Eric Culus / Patrick Marto (Polaris)
1. Kreisberger – Kreisberger (Polaris)
2. Abel – Manez (Polaris)
3. Girard – Abrantes (Polaris)
1 Joquim Rodriguez (Hero)
2 David Thomas (Husqvarna)
3 David Megre (KTM)