HRC rider Kevin Benavides claims the win of the SS3 in a hectic day
Atlas Bivouac Marathon 464 km Liaison 50 km SS 223 km Liaison 191 km
A “Dakar style” stage with technical navigation and varied terrains marked the first day of the marathon stage. After a liaison of 50 km, the competitors took the start of the 223 km long selective stage that alternated fast tracks to sandy off road passages before starting the climb to the Atlas Mountains, where they will spend the night in the marathon bivouac at almost 2.000 meters above the sea level.
Gerard Farres started first but due to the tough navigation, he was soon caught by Benavides, Svitko, Van Beveren and Helder Rodrigues. They all rode together till the end. After the arrival of the first 11 riders, the race was interrupted at the CP3 and some minutes later at the CP2 due to safety reasons. A very strong sandy storm and the fact that the two medical helicopters were busy in the rescue service didn’t guarantee the safety of the race, the first priority of the organisation. The remaining riders are still on their way to the bivouac in liaison.
Kevin Benavides (HRC) claimed the victory of the SS3 in front of Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha), second at +3’29, Stefan Svitko (KTM), third at + 6’42, Van Beveren (Yamaha) 4th at +9’ 59 and Gerard Farres (KTM) 5th at + 12’39. José Cornejo did another impressive performance (6th), while Ricky Brabec (7th) struggled more than the previous days due to the difficult navigation.
“It was a stage characterized by difficult navigation and we mainly rode all together. After the CP2 I took the lead and opened the track. It was difficult but it was a very good training. I particularly enjoyed the stunning landscapes. The variety of the terrains with many sandy off road passages and rocky paths required a very technical riding and a precise navigation.”.
“It was important to gain as many minutes as possible today because we are in the middle of the race. I had planned a race strategy that I couldn’t follow completely, but all in all I’m satisfied with today’s result”.
Adrien Van Beveren:
“It was a tough stage! We started with the sand and we finished with the rocks at 2000 meters above the sea level. I live at the sea, so I enjoy the sand more than the rocks, but the climb on the Atlas Mountains was impressive. Today we met all kind of terrains so we had to adapt to the changes. This was very good because adaptation is the winning key in a rally”.
“It was a Dakar stage! I liked the spirit to give the priority to the off piste and the difficult navigation. We had to think and double check many times if we were on the right direction, we are racing in group, alternating each other in front and - as on the Dakar - the race strategy is crucial. It reminded me of the old times when Jordi Arcarons was racing the Dakar in Africa with the difference that the speed is higher. There are many riders and important manufacturers so the competition is high”.
“Today there was a lot of navigation and I got lost many times and I couldn’t catch the guys at the front. I rode by myself almost the whole stage and it was difficult as it was mainly off piste and it was difficult to see the traces”.