Merzouga Leg 2: The apprenticeship continues: Benavides 4th
The Merzouga Rally served up another tough day of navigation for the second full stage. Nevertheless, Team HRC riders, Ricky Brabec and Kevin Benavides made it through another arduous, sweltering day without any real setbacks.
Team HRC continues to accomplish its main mission in the Afriquia Merzouga Rally with the two young riders Ricky Brabec and Kevin Benavides gaining experience and coming to terms with the tough navigation.
In a stage that was divided up into two parts, Brabec and Benavides were to come up against navigation of the most difficult kind. The initial part played out in the dunes, whilst the second took to faster-paced track with rocks and various ‘oueds’.
American rider Ricky Brabec started out from fourth position, but a slight roadbook reading error cost him some time. Team HRC colleague Kevin Benavides (Argentina) was able to overtake Brabec, with the two eventually finishing virtually neck and neck.
In the final part of the liaison section Ricky was hit by a rock flicked up by another bike ahead, which, in spite of goggles and helmet, left the American with a nasty bruised nose and headache. The rider will, however, be in perfect shape to ride tomorrow.
Tomorrow will see the rally’s marathon stage, which means that on arriving at the bivouac, the riders will be cordoned off with their bikes without the help of outside mechanical assistance. The riders themselves will be the only ones allowed to make any kind of repairs or servicing. The special stage will feature a lot of sandy, off-piste racing; once again with heavy emphasis on navigation. The total of 464 kilometres will include 223 against the clock.
Ricky Brabec : Stage 7th, overall 6th
Today was a long day; not very long in kilometres but just mentally with all these notes. There were lots of rocks today that were really dangerous, so I didn’t really want to take any chances and crash. So I slowed down a bit and let the top guys do what they wanted to do. I just played it safe and navigated to the finish line. It’s weird that I didn’t get hit by a stone while I was racing, but I got hit by a stone coming back on the liaison. I didn’t see it coming; it came out of nowhere and it popped me pretty hard. I’ve got a banged up nose and a pretty fat headache. I’m going to go in and take care of it and get some rest.
Kevin Benavides: Stage 4th, overall 5th.
It was a good stage and it was going pretty well until fifteen kilometres from the end when I was unable to find the way out of a river. I lost a bit of time, but what the heck! We’re here to gain experience and learn. It’s important to learn all the signs. But in general, it’s going well and we are in a good position to attack from at the start tomorrow. I feel great on the bike and with Ricky we make a good team.