Merzouga Day 4: Kevin Benavides repeats and wins the fourth stage

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Victory for Brice Auert in the quad category. In the SSV the French crew Labille- Niveau won today’s stage, the second one in the rally. 

 SS4 Atlas Bivouac Marathon – Erfoud 311 km Liaison 110 km – SS 170 km Liaison 31 km 

After having spent a night in the High Atlas, the competitors took an early start for the 4th stage, the fastest one of this rally on off road tracks crossing all kind of terrains. 

The 27 Argentinian from Salta Kevin Benavides repeated an impressive ride, opening the track for the whole stage. After having been the fastest on the Prologue and having won the third stage, the HRC rider claimed also today’s stage. Second at 6’18, the Spanish Gerard Farres from Himoinsa Racing, while Stefan Svitko closed third at 06’48. The torrid temperatures (with the thermometer reaching 38 degrees) represented an extra challenge to the demanding navigation, fesh fesh and the camel grass. 

With one day to go, Benavides, the overall leader, will fight with Svitko and Van Beveren. Farres, Rodrigues and Brabec respectively 4th, 5th and 6th of the general will be also in the game. Tomorrow the 74km of the Extreme GP in the high dunes of Erg Merzouga and the Erg Chebbi will define the winner of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally. Part of the Dakar Challenge, the winner will exceptionally gain also the entry for the Dakar 2017. 

Among the Expert category riders, who cover the 75% of the route, a special mention goes to the Moroccan rider Abdelgnani Ouafi on the rally class and the Italian Maurizio Littamé and Valter Parisi (enduro class) respectively at their 4th and 3rd Merzouga Rally. They are two friends that year after year come to the rally to enjoy the desert and the friendly atmosphere. Parisi broke the gearbox today but he hopes to fix it to take the start of the Extreme GP. 

The winner of the Dakar Challenge today is the two time World Baja Champion Alessandro Ruoso, followed by David Megre and Walter Nosiglia, the older brother of Daniel, the leader of the provisional general standing. Tomorrow the battle for a free entry for the Dakar 2017 will be exciting as the Hero rider Joaquim Rodrigues, second of the overall, and Gonçalo Reis, third, will give all to gain such an important prize. 

In the quad category Brice Auert claimed the win of the stage in front of Lucas Innocente and Matyas Somfai. 

It was another exciting day for Ali Anaam, known as “Ali El Cojo”, who finished 6th. At his first rally, the 43 Moroccan rider from Merzouga could count on his knowledge of the area but, despite that, he discovered new beautiful passages and met new friends. 

After winning the second stage, the French crew Labille- Niveau claimed also today’s win by only 4 seconds on the Enricy / Bersey (Polaris). Third the Spanish crew from Melilla Medero / Ventaja all on Polaris.Fourth Pitout and Delaunay of the XtremePlus team, fifth Tonetti-Roman on a Yamaha. 

Results Day 4

General Ranking

Riders quotes 

Kevin Benavides: “I have to thank Ricky (Brabec) as last night at the marathon bivouac he gave me his exhaust so that I could tackle the 4th stage at the best. Today it was my turn to open the track and I did it well. It was a tough stage with tricky navigation, a lot of off-piste, camel grass and fesh fesh. This morning we left the mountains, where we spent the night in a really nice bivouac, and we head to the desert again with torrid temperatures”. 

Ricky Brabec: I had a good day and I was able to keep the pace on the fastest stage of the rally. I made a navigation mistake after the re-fuelling as I lost the concentration. I have to say that this is the most difficult road book I have ever met in my career. My bike is working well, the handling has improved a lot compared to the last Dakar and I finished the second marathon day without any problems. I enjoyed the tented bivouac in the mountains. The temperatures were cooler and the beds really comfortable”. 

Daniel Nosiglia: “I’m racing the Afriquia Merzouga Rally with my brother Walter and we are here to train the navigation. I’m learning a lot but we are also having a lot of fun. This rally is an important step in the preparation for the Dakar that we will race also with our father. It will be a special event because the caravan of the Dakar will stop also at La Paz, my home town”. 

Vincent Crosbie: “My road to Dakar starts in Botswana and passes via Merzouga. I’m here to train navigation but also to learn from Marc Coma. The workshops he held every day confirmed that I’m working in the right direction. I also had the chance to ask him several questions, a very useful one on one “session” to arrive ready to the Dakar”. 

Luca Manca: “It’s great to return on an International rally. I have done a lot of enduro, also at a very high level like the ISDE, but being here has another taste. I am training a lot at the home with the rally bike and the road book but not with the GPS. The first day I lost some time as I had to get used to the new GPS, the second day I recovered from 80th to 22th. I enjoyed the SS3, a “Dakar style” stage. Today I could recover some more time, finishing 25th. I’m really happy, my goal is to return to the Dakar and to finish it”. 

Ali Anaam “el cojo”: “I know every single rock of this region by name but I was surprised to discover new beautiful passages. I also met new friends and I’m planning to race the Baja Saragoza in July. I’m really enjoying it”. 

Valter Parisi: “Year after year we return racing this rally in the Expert category because our priority is to have fun with the friends and enjoy the desert and dunes. The level is still demanding but not too much. We also have time to rest at the pool and enjoy ourselves”. 

Labille / Niveau: “Another beautiful stage! We had a good battle with Enrichy-Bersey and we rode half stage with them. In the end also the Spanish crew of Medero-Ventaja recovered and closed the gap. We are happy of how the rally is going and we would like to thank Motricity and Jardin Loisir for their support”. 

Gounon-Michel: “We enjoyed the road to the mountains yesterday and the uphill to the valley today. In terms of navigation we struggled with the new WPC. We are getting ready for the Extreme GP”.