4th Rd. Rally 2019 – Rally du Maroc (MAR)
Luciano Benavides - KTM 450 RALLY - 2019 Rally du Maroc

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Incorporating a new pre-coloured style road book, stage two of the Rally du Maroc marked the first half of the event’s demanding marathon stage. Covering a total of 435 kilometres, riders had to conserve both their machines and tyres ahead of Monday’s 540-kilometre stage three as no outside assistance is allowed at the bivouac overnight.

Riding his second Rally du Maroc, Luciano Benavides’ increased knowledge and experience paid off on today’s stage. Overcoming difficulties with navigation and the road book that were shared by most riders, the young Argentinian was able to make up time on the riders ahead of him on the stage and bring his KTM 450 RALLY home in fifth place. The result moves Benavides into an excellent third place in the provisional overall standings.

Luciano Benavides: “Today went a lot better for me partly because I felt a lot better physically than yesterday. My pace today was good, but I got lost in one point that cost me about four minutes, after that I decided to take it steady and get to the finish safely. The group of riders in front made some errors so I was able to catch them a little as the race went on and ended up finishing together. My rhythm has been good and it’s nice to see an improvement in my performance over last year.”

Following their strong results on day one of the rally, Matthias Walkner and Toby Price set off as the third and fourth riders to enter stage two. Starting well and feeling comfortable on the fast, rough tracks at the beginning of the stage the two former Dakar winners maintained a good pace on the technical timed special. Unfortunately, with the road book seemingly missing key directions a number of the leading riders lost their way and had to retrace their route. Caught by the riders behind, the group then continued to the finish. Despite the time lost, Price and Walkner maintained their top-10 positions in the standings, with the pair currently lying eighth and 10th respectively.

Toby Price: “It’s been quite a frustrating day today. I started off fourth but every time we made a small mistake, the guys behind were able to catch us up and then stay with us. The road book seems to be lacking in information a little bit and doesn’t have everything we need to ride at our best out here. With so many parallel pistes and tracks and roads, it makes things really tricky for us. It’s frustrating but on the positive side, it’s the marathon stage – I’m healthy and the bike is good. If the road book is the same for tomorrow, we should be able to make a lot of time back on the front guys then.”

Matthias Walkner: “It wasn’t the best stage for me today, but I’m happy to reach the finish safely after such a long stage. From about kilometre 245 I opened the stage and it was going well, but there were a few notes in the road book that I don’t think were that accurate – two before the refuelling and then another one afterwards. Of course, the guys behind were able to see when we finally found the correct route and follow us from there so we ended up losing a lot of time to them. Hopefully the situation will be reversed tomorrow and we can catch up on time. I really enjoyed opening the stage for 150 kilometres today, so looking forward to tomorrow now.”

Similarly to Price and Walkner, KTM Factory Racing’s Laia Sanz endured a tough stage two. Rather than push and risk a mistake, the nine-time Dakar finisher chose to ease off her pace and preserve her KTM 450 RALLY in order to successfully complete the first half of the marathon stage without issue. 21st on the stage, Laia now lies 20th in the overall rally standings.

Laia Sanz: “Stage two was really tough for me. My result was not so good and my times were a little off too. I got lost in a couple of places but I think that was the same for everyone. I made the decision to take things a little steady in some places because the speeds were high and the terrain was still quite technical. We managed to test some things on the bike and get a better understanding of how they work so that was good. Hopefully we can do the same again tomorrow.”

Opening the stage from the beginning following his excellent win on stage one, Sam Sunderland unfortunately suffered a crash that took him some time to recover from. On reaching the refuelling point, the 2019 World Champion decided to retire from the stage due to increasing pain in his elbow. The British star was taken for further checks but the injury is not thought to be serious.

Monday’s stage three of the 2019 Rally du Maroc is the longest of the event. Of the total 540.88 kilometres covered, three exhausting timed specials totalling 362.98 kilometres will decide the day’s results.

Provisional Results – Stage 2 Rally du Maroc 2019

1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 4:56:37
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 5:02:03 +5:26
3. Andrew Short (USA), Husqvarna, 5:02:25 +5:48
4. Ross Branch (BWA), KTM, 5:05:37 +9:00
5. Luciano Benavides (ARG), KTM, 5:05:58 +9:21
Other KTM
9. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 5:12:06 +15:29
11. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 5:14:40 +18:03
21. Laia Sanz (ESP), KTM, 5:39:46 +43:09
26. Mario Patrao (POR), KTM, 6:26:16 +1:29:39

Provisional Standings – Rally du Maroc 2019 after 2 of 5 stages

1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 8:44:09
2. Andrew Short (USA), Husqvarna, 8:50:34 +6:25
3. Luciano Benavides (ARG), KTM, 8:52:36 +8:27
4. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 8:53:47 +9:38
5. Ross Branch (BWA), KTM, 8:55:16 +11:07
Other KTM
8. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 8:57:06 +12:57
10. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 8:59:17 +15:08
20. Laia Sanz (ESP), KTM, 9:37:18 +53:09
27. Mario Patrao (POR), KTM, 10:38:53 +1:54:44

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