After missing a checkpoint in stage one of the Merzouga Rally, Australian Toby Price has climbed into fifth overall after finishing third in stage two.
The short 175.3km timed special of stage two of the Merzouga Rally saw riders head out into the desert east of the small town of Merzouga. The route was made up of two loops, separated by a 15-minute neutralisation. Comprising a mixture of dunes and faster tracks, the stage still required careful navigation in order to post a good time.
Setting off early in the morning at 7.00am, riders initially struggled with visibility due to the rising sun. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Toby Price kept his head down and concentrated on both his navigation and maintaining a consistent pace on the timed special. Keen to not repeat the error he made on Monday’s stage one, the Australian was careful to hit every waypoint whilst not losing too much time. At the finish, Price posted the third fastest time for the day, just over three-minutes down on the leader Kevin Benavides.
Happy with his riding, Toby now prepares himself for tomorrow’s tough 240km marathon stage.
Toby Price: “It was a good day today, especially after having such a tough day yesterday. I kept to a good pace and concentrated on my navigation. I just nailed each section and tried not to make the same mistakes as yesterday and lose a chunk of time. After making a mistake like yesterday, you lose confidence in your road book, so today was all about building that confidence up again and getting a solid result. The bike was great again today and now we have to plan for tomorrow’s marathon stage. I think it is going to be pretty tough, but I’m not opening the stage so I should be able to chase down the guys in front a little while hopefully conserving myself and the bike.”
Stage three of the 2018 Merzouga Rally sees the riders tackle the first half of the event’s marathon stage – a long 241.1km stage that, following a long liaison section, leads competitors into the soft dunes around the Fezou region. Riders will then stay overnight at the campsite receiving no outside assistance to their machines.
Provisional Results Stage Two – 2018 Merzouga Rally
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 2:41:54
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, 2:44:10 +2:16
3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 2:45:35 +3:41
4. Franco Caimi (ARG), Yamaha, 2:49:36 +7:42
5. José Ignacio Cornejo (CHI), Honda, 2:50:04 8:10
Provisional Overall Results – 2018 Merzouga Rally after 2 of 5 stages
1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 6:12:27
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 6:16:03 +3:36
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, 6:17:20 +4:53
4. Franco Caimi (ARG), Yamaha, 6:19:28 +7:01
5. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 06:21:55 +9:28