Rallye

Toby Price wins opening stage of Morocco Rally

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Red Bull KTM factory riders launched their bid for the final round of the 2016 FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship on Monday tackling a relatively short and fast stage in the desert of Morocco that saw Toby Price take line honors.

Second was Kevin Benavides of Argentina and third place went to Price‰Ûªs teammate Sam Sunderland. With only one minute separating the top three, and the first 15 riders all within a five-minute span, it is very much open after the first of five stages.

Toby Price was also the winner in Sunday‰Ûªs 7-km super special on his KTM 450 RALLY and Sam Sunderland was third. The top 10 riders were able to choose their preferred starting positions for the first stage on Monday. Price and Sunderland opted to go out at 11-12, leaving the responsibility of opening the track and the first navigation challenges to the riders in front.

Faced with 240 km on the bikes, which included two timed specials of 70 and 50 km, Price said the opener, the so-called Seaside Stage, was more of a sprint.

"Stage one was good and there was a couple of tricky bits and the dust made it a bit difficult when we caught some riders in front," Price explained. "But we got through well and I only made a couple of small errors with the navigation. But I think it was more to do with the dust and trying to keep my eyes on the road instead of looking at the road book.‰Û
Honda's Kevin Benavides was second.
Honda CRF450 RALLY mounted Argentine rider Kevin Benavides took runner-up spot on the day, a minute adrift of Price.

"I felt great on the bike and I picked things up as the stage went on and felt better and better as the kilometres went by," Benavides said. "The bike was perfect. It was a good first stage with a fast pace and now we are focusing on what is coming up over the next few days, above all tomorrow which is the marathon stage."
Sam Sunderland rounded out the podium
Sam Sunderland was also satisfied with his opening day, although he said it had been a tough one with lots of stony areas and speed zones.

‰ÛÏToday was pretty good. I started in 12th and that was my decision after the prologue. I had Toby in front of me and I knew I would have a bit of clean air because he would be pushing hard," Sunderland said. "We both caught the Yamaha rider (de Soultrait) after only a few kilometers and I caught his dust a bit and made a small navigational error. When you have to stop for a speed zone it breaks your rhythm. It can be 3-4 km at 30 km/h, so that side of it was tough.‰Û
American Ricky Brabec was fourth for Team HRC
Ricky Brabec took advantage of his starting position to post a fourth place. The American was twenty-five seconds quicker than Portuguese teammate Paulo Gon̤alves ‰ÛÒ fifth overall after the aggregate of today‰Ûªs two specials and the super-special of yesterday in Agadir.

"It was a good day with fast tracks and a little bit sandy," Brabec explained. "It was pretty simple navigation and the weather was perfect. We have four more days to go and tomorrow there is the marathon, so let‰Ûªs see what we can do over the next few days and hopefully we can all stay close together like today."

Australian Rod Faggotter was 17th racing for the Yamaha Off Road factory team.

‰ÛÏIt‰Ûªs been a learning day. I got to lead out right from the start, which made things a lot more interesting," Faggotter said. "My navigation was good and just before the end of the first special stage HÌ©lder caught up with me and I let him pass. Right after the start of the second special Botturi passed me as well. Despite a small fall just before the end I crossed the line without any major problems. Overall, I‰Ûªm learning a lot racing among the best riders in the world. As for tomorrow, I‰Ûªm looking forward to being the cat and not the mousse in the game for the top.‰Û

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