Helder Rodrigues wins the 6th and last stage of the Morocco Rally ahead of Pedrero and Despres, who claimed the victory of the Morocco Rally 2012.
Despite the technical problem in SS4 that pushed Rodrigues out of the race when he was leading the overall standing and was fighting for the victory within Honda’s reach, TEAM HRC leaves Morocco satisfied with the good work done by all five riders and the performance of the CRF 450 rally.
The first Honda rider, behind Rodrigues, was the 23 year old Sam Sunderland, who finished 4th in SS6 and sits 10th overall. The Brit experienced some ups and downs during the race, but Sam leaves satisfied with very positive feelings about the machine and the team work.
Brazilian Felipe Zanol, who claimed 3rd in SS4 and 4th in the overall after the first 4 stages, continued gaining experience in navigation with CAP, so different from what he is used to in Brazil. Today he finished 12th and sits 7th overall.
Fellow TEAM HRC mate Pizzolito rode consistently, improving stage after stage. The Argentinian rider finished 18th, 13th in the overall.
A good day for Johnny Campbell who rode with a good pace in the rocky and mountainous tracks of the sixth and last stage. The American rider finished 19th, 18th overall.
The Stage. Liaison: 9 kms – selective sector: 171 kms – Liaison: 26 kms Total change of setting: fast and technical track to Jbel Rhart, crossing a pass with a spectacular end of the stage in the dunes of Tinfou.
Helder Rodrigues, 1st in SS6 – 41st overall: “I pushed from the start, catching Barreda at Km 40. I passed him and I opened the track until the finish. Last night’s rainfall had damaged the route. There were many dangers so I had to be very careful. The balance of the whole rally is positive. We won the first stage, we were leading the overall classification when I suffered a technical problem and my race was finished in terms of final results, but that’s racing. We musn’t forget that we were here mainly to do the shakedown of the machine. The level of the bike is very good and I look forward to next Dakar with Honda HRC.
Sam Sunderland 4th in SS6 – 10th overall: “During this rally we had some up and downs with a crash in the 2nd stage, a technical problem, then a 30 minute penalty for missing a way point, but each day we have improved and it has been great to work in this team. This race was a perfect training for us as riders and to do the shakedown of the machine, because it’s almost impossible to reproduce the race conditions in a normal test session”.
Felipe Zanol 12th in SS6 – 7th overall: “It was a dangerous last stage with many rocks and dangers . I had no reason to push for the final classification so I rode paying attention to the road book. All in all it was a very positive experience. It was my first time in Africa and my priority was to gain experience with the navigation with CAP, which is different from what I’m used to in the races in Brazil. Back home I will continue training.
Javier Pizzolito 18th in SS6, 13th overall: “at the start I struggled a bit to maintain my concentration because I didn’t understand why I got 2 hours penalty. We are checking now. Today we had rocky paths and many dangers so I preferred not to take many risks. I leave Morocco feeling very satisfied. The atmosphere in the group is fantastic, we get along very well and this is a big plus for when we face Dakar”.
Johnny Campbell 19th in SS6 – 18th overall: “With the last night’s rain, the terrain was wet. We had good traction and it was easy to follow the piste. I enjoyed today’s stage through the mountains a lot. The piste was similar to what we have in Nevada and California, where I usually train. The rally was a good test for me. Our team is very experienced in many different areas but we are young as a rally team, so it was very good to be all here to unify the crew and find a good dynamic. The data we collected are invaluable for the Dakar”.
Henk Hellgers, Team HRC Manager: “It was the first time that the team had worked together and I’m very happy with the work done by everyone, not only the riders but also the mechanics, engineers and the whole staff. The cooperation among the crew members representing 11 different nationalities is amazing. We wanted to test the whole structure as the Dakar is a tough race. Now we will finalize the last things before shipping all the vehicles to Lima on the 8th and 22nd of November. In total we will have 11 vehicles: 2 trucks, 1 van, 4 Honda ridgeline and 3 motorhomes”.
Katsumi Yamazaki, TEAM HRC LPL: “We had a very good start with all five riders and after the problem with Helder’s machine in the 4th stage, we recovered well thanks to the promising performances of the whole team. The base of the machine is good, we have collected invaluable data and we will continue working to improve the bike for the Dakar. Our priority was to have all 5 riders finishing the race and do the shakedown of the machine. We leave Morocco with a positive feeling”.
SS6 Unofficial lap times
1. Rodrigues (Honda – TEAM HRC)
2. Pedrero Garcia (KTM) + 00’ 19
3. Despres (KTM) + 00’ 27
4. Sunderland (Honda – TEAM HRC) + 01’ 12
5. Goncalves (Husqvarna) + 01’ 20
12. Zanol (Honda – TEAM HRC) + 05’ 35
18. Pizzolito (Honda – TEAM HRC) +19’ 49
19. Campbell (Honda – TEAM HRC) + 20’ 41
Unofficial overall classification
1. Despres (KTM)
2.Barreda (Husqvarna) + 06’52
3. Lopez (KTM) + 34’ 28
4. Verhoven (Yamaha) + 40’42
5. Goncalves (Husqvarna)+ 43’ 52
7. Zanol (Honda – TEAM HRC) + 49’ 23
10. Sunderland (Honda – TEAM HRC) + 1h 09’ 56
13. Pizzolito (Honda – TEAM HRC) + 2h 14’ 06
18 Campbell (Honda – TEAM HRC) +4h 48’ 16
41. Rodrigues (Honda – TEAM HRC) +16h 36’ 11