Team HRC takes up positions in a tough test of navigation

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The second stage of the OiLibya Morocco Rally proved to be a far more taxing affair with a special stage requiring deft navigational and riding skills. Joan Barreda finished fourth and Paulo Goncalves, fifth.

The desert to the south of Zagora offered a harsh battle ground for a second stage which had upped the ante for rider navigation in a stage with complicated routes and way points that were hard to find.

Joan Barreda, the fastest Team HRC rider on the day, got lumbered with the job of starting out first and soon made it evident that his pace and navigational prowess have in no way been diminished by his absence through injury. The handicap of opening the track turned out to be not so negative after conceding a few minutes to rivals, although it means that he drops from overall top-spot for the time being.

An eager Paulo Gonçalves had a rough start to the day after a navigational error in the first part of the special meant that the Portuguese rider saw precious time slip away. Paulo battled hard for the remaining 200 kilometres, yet in spite of clawing back some of the lost time remains frustrated by his earlier error. The effort did, however, move him one place up the overall leaderboard into fifth position.

Paolo Ceci dropped several minutes although Team HRC will hope that the organisation annuls the lost time as the Italian rider had stopped to attend to Iván Cervantes after an accident in the stage.

Kevin Benavides and Jean Azevedo, the two riders from Honda South America Rally Team, both had the opportunity to complete their rally mission of improving riding and navigation skills. Both South Americans move up in the overall standings.

Joan Barreda: “Today was one of those days where you really enjoy being on the bike and opening the track. I’m having a blast on the Honda CRF450 RALLY! But best of all, I feel great to have these sensations once again with the navigation and a good pace. In the dunes, I got it right and there were some tracks from the other vehicles so I had to keep calm to navigate well and not get carried away.”

Paulo Goncalves: “It was a very bad day for me. I had a good starting position but I made a bad navigation mistake just after the special had started and I lost a lot of time. I tried to make up the time that I had lost, but it wasn’t enough. All the same, I’m pleased with the pace that I have had in the race. Today we had every type of track and I’m able to cope very well in those situations. Bad navigation, good riding. Tomorrow we will continue the fight.”

Paolo Ceci: “A tough stage, with a lot of navigation. At the start there was a complicated point in a river which cost me a few minutes. After I tried to keep up a good pace and I got to the dunes with a group made up of Renet, Cervantes and Van Beveren, who were all going very quickly. I joined them but Cervantes fell very heavily. I stayed with him to make sure that he was fine. I lost 15 to 20 minutes but I hope that the organizers give it back to me. The rest of the stage went well, although it was a pity about the mistake at the beginning. The bike has been going really well and I’m really up for the next stages.”

Kevin Benavides: “A complicated stage. There was a lot of earth in the beginning and it was hard to overtake the other riders. It was also very technical. There was a lot of sand, dunes and some rivers. I had a great time. I improved the rhythm because I felt a lot more comfortable on the bike that is really going great and hasn’t given the slightest problem. It’s been fantastic.”

Jean Azevedo: “It was a stage with a lot of stones, hard and broken track, some fesh-fesh and sand. It was a bit tough as I haven’t been able to find the pace. I still haven’t found the right sensation with the suspension and I see that if I want to go really fast I have to take a lot of unnecessary risks. For navigation training, it has been a good stage. Positive.”

OiLibya Rally