TEAM HRC Rally Team isn’t having the best preparation ahead of the 2017 Dakar Rally, nor the best of ends to the Cross Country Rallies World Championship.
Paulo Goncalves, had been leading the rally in Morocco during the early stages before mechanical difficulties and a twisted knee forced his retirement on day four. American Ricky Brabec hit similar mechanical woes on day three and also went out.
But it was HRC’s Kevin Benavides (pictured above) who had the most dramatic Morocco adventure. Benavides began day three, the second of the marathon stage (without service assistance) from seventh position after what his team described as a “debacle” on day two where he, along with Red Bull KTM Racing’s Sam Sunderland, was stopped and forced to get off his bike by armed soldiers. Despite the brief delay, Benavides went on to claw back time and bagged the day three stage victory, a career first.
Benavides then suffered a hard fall on day four which left him unconscious on the track in an area that hadn’t been indicated in the roadbook.
Dakar 2016 winner Toby Price was first on the scene to help bring Benavides back to consciousness. Benavides was eventually able to get back onto the track and complete the special before undergoing a medical check-up at the finish.
HRC Rally Team Manager, Martino Bianchi: “It wasn’t an easy day for team HRC. We are happy that Kevin didn’t have any major problems. He had a bad crash that wasn’t marked out in the roadbook. It was an important hazard. Talking to Price and Sunderland, they too have stated that the danger hadn’t been correctly indicated. It is a shame because Kevin was having a great race and until CP2 he was in a great position. But that’s racing and we just have to accept it. But all of this is good experience that will help him to grow with the team and the bike towards the main aim which is, of course, the Dakar.”