At 470.19 kilometres the timed special on stage four of the rally was the longest of the event. Consisting of a looped route, that started and finished close to the Mongolian capital of Ulan-Bator, the stage challenged the riders with a variety of terrain including fast open tracks through the plains and rocky roads among the stone pyramids. As the first part of the two-day marathon stage, teams are forbidden from working on the bikes overnight.

Following his fourth-place finish on Tuesday’s stage three, Sam Sunderland was in the perfect position to chase down the riders ahead of him and make up time on the rally leader. Maintaining a fast pace for the entire 470 kilometres, the British rider not only did enough to make up time on the riders ahead but won the stage outright, over three minutes ahead of his teammate. Sunderland now leads the rally by five minutes and 11 seconds.

Sam Sunderland #6

“It’s been a super-long and super-fast stage today, which is a good combination as the kilometres tick off quite quickly when you’re at 160-170 km/h. I felt really good on the bike and tried to stay on my navigation and watch out for the dangers. You have to stay focused but 470 kilometres is a long time to maintain your concentration. The bike has been perfect so I’m really happy with that. It’s the marathon stage so we can’t really work on the bike too much, but everything looks good so we’re ready for tomorrow.”

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Junior class rider Luciano Benavides put in another stunning performance today to complete the long timed special in second overall – an impressive achievement for the young 24-year-old Argentinian. Benavides now lies second in the provisional overall standings albeit by just one second. However, the gap back to the fourth-placed rider is a more comfortable 14 minutes.

Luciano Benavides #77

“It was a good stage for me, I feel like I rode well again. It was a long stage – the longest of the Silk Way, so I’m happy to finish safe and healthy. My goal for today was to concentrate on my road book and navigation and stay focused on the bike. I think I managed that and I’m happy with the result. I feel confident now and really motivated for tomorrow’s second part of the marathon stage.”

Feeling more comfortable on her KTM 450 RALLY, Laia Sanz rode a superb stage four completing the day just outside of the top 10 in 11th. With her confidence growing, Laia is ready to push on the latter half of the marathon stage and the remainder of the rally.

Laia Sanz #44

“It was a good stage for me today, I felt a lot more comfortable than the days before. The bike felt good and I had more confidence so was able to keep to a better rhythm. Unfortunately, on the second half of the stage, I had to stop for my stomach and lost a little time there but all-in-all it has been a good day.”

Rider Standings

(Top 10 Only)

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team 9:38’55
2 BENAVIDES Luciano ARG KTM Factory Racing Team +5’11
3 BARREDA Joan SPA Monster Energy Honda Team +5’12
4 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team +15’38
5 MENA Oriol SPA Hero Motorsports Team Rally +16’52
6 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +17’21
7 SHORT Andrew USA Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +17’29
8 GONCALVES Paulo POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +18’23
9 CAIMI Franco ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +20’19
10 CORNEJO José Ignacio CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +34’31

Photos: KTM Press Center

The Silk Way Rally has arrived in Mongolia. The third stage had a weighty presence from Monster Energy Honda Team, with Kevin Benavides claiming the stage victory and a spirited fight for second place from Joan Barreda.

The rally leaves behind Russia and moves on to Mongolia, the country of eternal blue skies. Change of the scenery: the predominance of the taiga gives way to the steppes in a country characterized by an ample variety of terrain types: forest, mountains and plains, not to mention the Gobi desert in the south. The day’s special took place entirely on Mongolian soil after a liaison road section from Ulan Ude which took competitors across the border into Mongolia. The arrival of harder track and terrain saw an immediate increase in speed and race pace. The bivouac is situated close to the country’s capital Ulan Bator, using the infrastructure from the new airport that is under construction there.

Kevin Benavides took the stage honours on the third day of the Silk Way Rally, setting a scorching pace from the outset of the special stage. The Argentinean’s Monster Energy Honda Team companion, Spanish rider Joan Barreda, in spite of a slight mishap at the start of the special, was able to attack in the latter stages, battling hard with Kevin in search of the day’s quickest stint. Benavides, in the end, recorded the fastest one with Barreda coming home some 30 seconds behind the stage winner who holds on to and increases his grip at the head of the overall standings. Meanwhile, Barreda leapfrogs to third place in the general standings.

The third rider of the Monster Energy Honda Team trio, Chilean José Ignacio Cornejo, was feeling more at home on harder surfaces, finishing the special less than seven minutes adrift of Benavides to improve in the overall rankings too.

Tomorrow sees the fourth stage, the first leg of the marathon stage, with a looping route around the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator. The 476.96-kilometre total stage will include 470.19 against the clock, the longest special of the rally. Riders will have a time period available at their disposal to work on the bikes once the special stage is finished.

Kevin Benavides #7

STAGE: 1ST  OVERALL: 1ST

Today was a different stage, a very long day: 10 hours on the bike. I enjoyed the special. I did not push as much as possible, but I tried to keep good pace and it was great to win on the day. Tomorrow I will have to open the track, not something I like, as it is not a good one for strategy. There are many days of racing left and you have to enjoy this Silk Way Rally stage by stage, something that I’m really doing.

Joan Barreda #11

STAGE: 2ND  OVERALL: 3RD

How do you write a book? Where do you start? Anyone can do it. Of course, you don’t have to be a great writer to write a book, you have to feel like a writer. To learn how to write a book that someone will want to publish it is essential to learn the method of the greats of literature. Writing a book, in fact, is not easy. Leaving without being adequately prepared is the most common mistake, with the risk of arriving halfway without having anything to say. A great deal of application is required to write a book. A good idea is not enough, intuition is not enough: it takes a lot of time. It is hard work and it is not so easy like to type in google who can do my thesis for me fast and get your thesis in a few hours. But what are the steps necessary to write a good book, be it a novel or an essay on a topic of your competence? The starting point is the same: the documentation work necessary to be credible and to have material on which to construct the discourse. Before starting to write a book, you must, therefore, study in-depth the topic you want to describe with your work. The historical setting of a novel, the possible details of a character’s life and the places described. If, on the other hand, you are working on a manual, you must first know the subject thoroughly, document yourself about possible sources and study the competition. It is useless to write yet another book on the same subject, with nothing original to say.

It was a good day in the end, but it was not an easy one. At the beginning of the special I lost some time when I fell into a trap that Paulo Gonçalves had also fallen into. I could not help it, but the bike just fell inside. Fortunately it was nothing serious for the bike, but I was held up there for at least two minutes. Then, I tried to focus and find good pace without taking too many risks, although I overtook Paulo in the middle of all the dust that he was raising. It was a tricky day. I tried to pull back some of the lost time over the final kilometres, something that isn’t easy on outside tracks and areas of grass.

José Ignacio Cornejo #9

STAGE: 9TH  OVERALL: 10TH

I am happy to enter Mongolia after the first two stages in Russia which were not my riding style. Here it went much better than the previous ones had. I’m happy with what I’ve done today and I’m becoming more confidence. We are going to try to go out and make up lost ground. We have been climbing positions little by little and hopefully will continue to do so. Tomorrow will be complicated because it’s the marathon stage and it will also be the longest special stage. So we should perhaps try not to take too many risks over these coming two days.

Rider Standings (Top 10 only)

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team 5:20’42
2 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +2’54
3 BARREDA Joan SPA Monster Energy Honda Team +3’09
4 BENAVIDES Luciano ARG KTM Factory Racing Team +4’19
5 GONCALVES Paulo POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +9’28
6 MENA Oriol SPA Hero Motorsports Team Rally +9’37
7 CAIMI Franco ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +10’40
8 SHORT Andrew USA Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +11’45
9 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +12’52
10 CORNEJO José Ignacio CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +28’15

Photos: Honda Racing Corporation

 

 

The second stage of the Silk Way Rally sees Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides continue his command at the head of the overall race leader board after a valiant effort opening the track throughout the stage in the Siberian taiga.

Taiga is the name given to the Siberian forest. The tracks found there are made up mainly of earth and rocks that tend to be very damp and full of muddy quagmires. The entire second Silk Way Rally stage played out in such terrain, vastly different from the pampas and deserts which the rally raiders are normally used to.

Kevin Benavides, winner of the first stage, got lumped with opening the track today, which he did from start to finish over 212 kilometres of special stage, full of narrow potholed track studded with rocks. The forest section gave way to faster stretches of track requiring deft navigation. The previous enduro experience worked to the Argentine rider’s advantage, allowing him to minimize the handicap of opening the way throughout the entire day’s racing. Benavides posted a swift time that sees him hang on to top spot in the overall rankings.

Joan Barreda, Benavides’ Spanish team-mate, feeling ill-at-ease in conditions that didn’t suit his riding style, nevertheless managed to make it through the tricky stage. Barreda finished 2’40 adrift of the winner on the day and occupies fifth position in the general standings at a similar distance from the leader. Meanwhile, Chilean rider Cornejo likewise reached the goal without major mishaps but with a sense of achievement after the ordeal and can now look forward to the sections of the rally in the steppes and the desert.

Tomorrow sees the third stage, between Ulan Ude and the capital of Mongolia, Ulan Bator. There will be a total of 691.35 kilometres of stage, although only 243 km will be against the clock.

Kevin Benavides #7

STAGE: 4th STANDINGS: 1st

I opened the whole stage. We knew it would be hard and very technical with many stones and mud. The narrow tracks were difficult, but I enjoyed it in spite of it being very hard. I think I did it well and I was in a good position. It was technical, fast and with navigation over the final 50 kilometres. I nearly crashed into an animal but luckily he dodged out of my way! You have to be very attentive to everything. The rally is a game of chess, so let’s see how it turns out. I am happy with the result.

Joan Barreda #11

STAGE: 5th STANDINGS: 5th

I felt very good on the slopes today with lots of mud and some potholes with big rocks. I could not find the right feelings and I was looking forward to getting past this section. Then there was a faster part and I felt a lot better there. We finished the day without any problems; I am well placed at a minimum time behind the leader. Everything is going well. I hope that in Mongolia we will find more open stages and I can find places that suit my riding style better.

José Ignacio Cornejo #9

STAGE: 12th STANDINGS: 12th

Today’s stage was much longer but was also harder. Lots of mud, water, stones and little visibility because of the shade of the forest trees. I did not feel very comfortable and I was struggling to feel comfortable. Let’s hope that in the future we find some terrain that will keep us ahead. Physically I’m fine, but mentally it’s hard to find a good race pace in these conditions.

Rider Standings

PROVISIONAL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 2

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team 2:52’28
2 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +0’08
3 GONCALVES Paulo POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +1’19
4 BENAVIDES Luciano ARG KTM Factory Racing Team +2’25
5 BARREDA Joan SPA Monster Energy Honda Team +2’39
6 MENA Oriol SPA Hero Motorsports Team Rally +3’03
7 CAIMI Franco ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +4’25
8 SHORT Andrew USA Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +6’18
9 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +7’08
10 GIEMZA Maciej POL KTM Orlen Rally Team +18’84
12 CORNEJO José Ignacio CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +21’17

Photos: Honda Racing Corporation

Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides sees his name inscribed in the Silk Way Rally history books as he becomes the first leader in the maiden outing of the motorcycle category. Barreda, posting fourth, and Cornejo both avoided mishaps.

The Silk Way Rally got underway today, Sunday, with a 50-kilometre curtain-raising special stage on route from Irkutsk to Baykalsk, which featured mountain tracks and riverbeds in the surroundings of Lake Baikal. The rain yesterday, which continued overnight, led to a mud-drenched affair, punctuated with some hazardous puddles. Riders with an enduro background faired better, while others employed low-risk, damage limitation strategies to avoid falls.

The quickest over the short distance proved to be Monster Energy Honda Team’s Argentine rider Kevin Benavides, who finished the timed special in just over 30 minutes to become the first race leader, some 36 seconds ahead of his brother.

Spanish ace Joan Barreda was the first of the trio to take the start and acquitted himself well to take the day’s fourth fastest time, while conceding little. Meanwhile, José Ignacio Cornejo finished in thirteenth place after a cautious start to the rally.

The second stage of the Silk Way Rally will be held tomorrow, Monday. With the start in Baykalsk and the finish in Ulan Ude, riders can expect a 413.72-kilometre total trek including 207 km against the clock. The forest routes to be tackled will feature a fair dosage of small rocks.

Kevin Benavides #7

STAGE: 1st OVERALL: 1st

I couldn’t ask for anything more! To start the race with a nice stage victory is always pleasing. Also, it will really boost my self-confidence which I needed a little. We have worked hard before the race and the results are starting to show. This race promises to surprise us with some very lovely places, but we have to continue working and pushing hard because we have only tackled the first of what will be a lot of tough days that lie ahead.

Joan Barreda #11

STAGE: 4th STANDINGS: 4th

It was a short 50-kilometre stage, but it was a difficult, or rather, a complicated one. At the beginning there were many flooded parts with puddles full of plenty of water which made for an insecure ride. We even had a few slight scares, which meant that we had to proceed with caution. It has been a good warm-up, a great way to get a feel for the terrain, as yet unknown to us.

José Ignacio Cornejo #9

STAGE: 13th STANDINGS: 13th

There was a lot of mud in the stage because of the rains that fell yesterday. I took things carefully not to make mistakes and avoid falling which would have affected my confidence. I am satisfied with what I have done out on a route that didn’t favour my riding style. It has not been a bad day and I hope to keep improving the pace a little as the race progresses.

Results Stage 1

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 00:30’51
2 BENAVIDES Luciano ARG KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +0’36
3 DE SOULTRAIT Xavier FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +0’51
4 BARREDA Joan SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +1’06
5 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +1’15
6 GONCALVES Paulo POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally Hero +1’36
7 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +2’02
8 CAIMI Franco ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +2’51
9 SHORT Andrew USA Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Husqvarna +3’01
10 MENA Oriol SPA Hero Motorsports Team Rally Hero +3’31
11 TOMICZEK Adam POL KTM Orlen Rally Team KTM +4’15
12 GIEMZA Maciej POL KTM Orlen Rally Team KTM +4’47
13 CORNEJO José Ignacio CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +6’10

Photos: Honda Racing Corporation

Monster Energy Honda Team have recently arrived in Russia, where from next week, the squad will line up for the Silk Way Rally – the second round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship – fielding a trio of riders who are set to compete in all events in the championship calendar.

A whopping 5000 kilometre trek through Irkutsk in Russia, Dunhuang in China and a journey across Mongolia, is the latest challenge that awaits the Monster Energy Honda Team next week. One of toughest tests in the calendar and, as yet, unchartered territory for the motorcycle category, gets underway on 7th July. The Silk Way Rally is the round two of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship and sees Honda’s factory team, Monster Energy Honda Team, line up with their official riders Kevin Benavides, Joan Barreda and José Ignacio Cornejo.

This year marks the tenth edition of the Silk Way Rally, but the motorcycle class only now gets its maiden outing in the race. The two-wheel competitors will thus tackle the lengthy course alongside the traditional car and truck competitors.

The riders can expect a heterogeneous route as they face nine tough stages that take in terrain types of every description: from the Russian taiga, through muddy, rock-filled tracks to the open plains of the Mongolian steppes. But it will be the final stretches through the Gobi desert between Mongolia and China that will establish the final finishing order. The longest stage will be the eighth, to be held in China with a total length of 786.11 kilometres, including 326.60 km of timed special stage. The longest special stage will play out in Mongolia, with a looping 470.19 stage from the capital Ulaanbaatar.

After the opener in Abu Dhabi, the Monster Energy Honda Team the overall standings see José Ignacio Cornejo and Kevin Benavides lying in third and fourth places on 21 and 16 points respectively. Joan Barreda, with 4 points, holds twentieth place.

Once the administrative and technical shakedown is out of the way, the action kicks off on 7th July with the first stage held between the city of Irkutsk and Baykalsk in the vicinity of Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world.

Stage Date Departure Arrival Liaison Special Total
1 7/7 Irkutsk Baykalsk 204,48 50,87 255,35
2 8/7 Baykalsk Ulan Ude 201,67 212,02 413,69
3 9/7 Ulan Ude Ulaanbaatar 448,35 243,00 691,35
4 10/7 Ulaanbaatar Ulaanbaatar 6,77 470,19 476,96
5 11/7 Ulaanbaatar Mandalgovi 27,59 337,00 364,59
6 12/7 Mandalgovi Dalanzadgad 3,58 408,17 411,75
7 13/7 Dalanzadgad Bayinbaolige 550,66 550,66
8 14/7 Bayinbaolige Alashan 59,51 326,60 786,11
9 15/7 Alashan Jiayuguan 210,90 290,30 501,20
10 16/7 Jiayuguan Dunhuang 301,30 255,00 556,30

Kevin Benavides

After the shoulder injury and the Abu Dhabi race we have worked hard to recover physically. Today, I’m fine and I’m riding the bike pain-free and I think I’m ready. I have recently done a good training session with the rally bike over a few days and I am super-motivated to get the Silk Way Rally underway. I think it will be a beautiful race, through different places and with different scenarios: mud, rocks, hard roads … and even dunes! I am ready for this new challenge and I hope that it all goes in the best way possible and I hope I feel good with myself.

Joan Barreda

I think we came to this second race in a much better way than we began the World Championship in Abu Dhabi. We are more physically recovered and I am looking forward to the Silk Way Rally because it is a rally that I have wanted to ride in for quite some time. Finally, it has been opened to motorcycles and on terrain that I think I will like. I am the only one of the three riders who has ridden in China, but that doesn’t give me any advantage. Hopefully we can have a good race that will help prepare us for the Dakar 2020.

José Ignacio Cornejo

The second date of the world rally championship is an important test because there are more points at stake than in other events and it is a lengthy race where getting as far ahead as possible and getting the most points towards the world championship is important. It will be an interesting, long race with nine stages and ten days. It will be the first time I have ridden in those unknown. We hope to have a good race in preparation for the Dakar. We have trained a lot and we are very motivated to this second date in the calendar.

Photos: Honda Racing Corporation / Edoardo Bauer