Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides has won a controversial stage four of the Merzouga Rally after a tricky day in the dunes that caught many out.
The stage served up a combination of dunes, sands, stony ground and trial-like areas. On the way, riders had to tackle dust-filled Moroccan track and a final section which caused many riders serious navigation problems with the main group riding around in circles in search of an elusive waypoint.
This afternoon race authorities decided to cancel the final section of the course, thus changing finishing positions radically.
The decision to cancel the final section drawing harsh criticism from some riders and team officials. Australian Toby Price, who was originally credited with second on the stage, was especially critical since the same thing happened to him on stage one but had to suffer the consequences.
"So how is this fair?" Price said in a scathing social media post. "Seriously such a joke, we all had the same roadbook, nobody was at an advantage or disadvantage just like we all had on day 1, plus in rally racing, it‰Ûªs impossible to make a roadbook 100% accurate so why can stuff like this get changed because a few got lost?? Racing will now have protests everyday cause there is always one wrong note in a roadbook!!"
At the end of the day though the amended results stand and with just the final motocross style stage of the Merzouga Rally still to run, Joan Barreda is in a solid position to claim overall victory tomorrow despite finishing eight on today's stage. Benavides is only six minutes behind the Spaniard with Pablo Quintanilla double that.