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

Team HRC’s Tim Gajser recorded his seventh MXGP overall of the season, and the sixth in succession after posting one-two results at the Palembang track in Indonesia. With high temperatures and brutal humidity affecting other riders, Gajser continued his hot streak of form, reeling off two holeshots on his way to his 10th moto victory in 12 gate drops. This meant he extended his lead at the top of the MXGP championship to 130 points with just seven rounds still to race. Fellow Honda CRF450RW rider Brian Bogers also put in two good rides to get his best result of the season, going twelve-eight for eighth overall at this 11th round of the world motocross championship.

After winning the qualification race yesterday, Gajser used first gate pick to great effect, ripping off holeshots in both races and leading the field for the first few laps. In the first moto, the Slovenian rider was able to then pull out a good gap quickly which allowed him to control the race and cross the line six seconds ahead of his nearest challenger. As he attempted to do the same in race two, a small mistake forced him off the track and he ended up on the ground. Remounting in third, he quickly moved into second place but with the rutted terrain proving quite treacherous, he decided to settle for second, knowing that he still had the overall wrapped up. And with the 47 points from today’s motos, his MXGP championship lead increased to 130 points, and more importantly to 161 points over the next active rider in the series.

For teammate Bogers, a strong second moto finish of eighth allowed him to secure eighth overall and his best overall placing of the season. After having difficulties with the heat and humidity in the first race, dropping from 8th to 12th position, the Dutch rider regrouped in the break and set about trying to break into the top 10 for race two. After getting a good start and rounding the first lap in sixth place, he was able to achieve his aim with a strong, resilient performance, something he’ll be looking to show again in Semarang next weekend.

As the series moves east to the neighbouring island of Java, the high temperatures are likely to follow them but with a week to acclimatise to the weather, both Gajser and Bogers will be hoping to continue their form at a Semarang track that hosted a round in the 2018 series too.

Tim Gajser  243

All day I really enjoyed riding the track. In the first moto I grabbed the holeshot and made a little gap and controlled the race. I had a lot of fun out there and managed to win the first moto. In the second race I didn’t have the best jump out of the gate so I got closed off on the straight, but as they ran wide, I was able to cut inside and take another holeshot. On the fourth lap and went off the track, and my rear tyre spun on the dusty ground and I had a little crash. I re-joined the race in third place, but managed to pass Jeremy immediately. I saw that Romain was riding a really good pace out front so I decided to settle for second place and to win another overall. Obviously I’m still happy with how the day went and my standing in the championship.

Brian Bogers  189

The day didn’t really go as I wanted, especially the first moto. The first five or six laps felt okay and I was riding with the fast guys but then the heat hit me really bad and I couldn’t push anymore. I felt pretty bad about that so I really wanted to try harder for race two. I got out of the gate really well and from the beginning I was pushing even harder than the first moto. I didn’t want to save myself because that isn’t a good mindset and it seemed to work because even when I got a little tired with the heat, I could still keep pushing. I ended up with a twelfth and an eighth for eighth overall so that’s not too bad but I still want to do better.

Marcus Pereira de Freitas

HRC General Manager – MXGP

With the heat and humidity making conditions really tough, it was great to see Tim once again riding so well and taking the overall. He got the holeshot in both races which was very important and although he wasn’t able to win the second race, he still won his sixth overall in a row and increased his lead in the championship battle. He is doing everything we want from him and it is just great to see him riding with this much confidence.
It was also good to see Brian get his best overall placing of the season, despite not riding to his full capabilities. The heat was tough for everyone and he did much better in the second moto so we are happy with his recovery. He now has a week to adapt to these conditions a bit more and to come out swinging in Semarang.

Rider Standings

Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team
1 GAJSER Tim 243 SLO 488 Team HRC – MXGP
2 CAIROLI Antonio 222 ITA 358 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
3 SEEWER Jeremy 91 SWI 327 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team
4 PAULIN Gautier 21 FRA 318 Wilvo Yamaha MXGP
5 TONUS Arnaud 4 SWI 304 Wilvo Yamaha MXGP
6 JASIKONIS Arminas 27 LTU 271 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
7 COLDENHOFF Glenn 259 NDL 256 Standing Construct KTM
8 JONASS Pauls 41 LAT 246 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
9 VAN HOREBEEK Jeremy 89 BEL 245 Honda SR Motoblouz
10 FEBVRE Romain 461 FRA 227 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team
11 DESALLE Clement 25 BEL 208 Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing
12 ANSTIE Max 99 GBR 184 Standing Construct KTM
13 LIEBER Julien 33 BEL 184 Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing
14 MONTICELLI Ivo 128 ITA 161 iFly JK Racing
15 SIMPSON Shaun 24 GBR 129 RFX KTM Racing
16 BOGERS Brian 189 NDL 126 Team HRC – MXGP
17 LEOK Tanel 7 EST 112 A1M Husqvarna
18 SEARLE Tommy 100 GBR 103 Bike It DRT Kawasaki
19 LUPINO Alessandro 77 ITA 103 Gebben V Venrooy Kawasaki
20 TIXIER Jordi 911 FRA 81 Team VHR KTM Racing
21 PATUREL Benoit 6 FRA 65 Gebben V Venrooy Kawasaki
22 HERLINGS Jeffrey 84 NDL 57 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
23 BRYLYAKOV Vsevolod 18 RUS 44 JWR Yamaha Racing
24 STRIJBOS Kevin 22 BEL 43 JWR Yamaha Racing
25 GOLE Anton 297 SWE 30 iFly JK Racing
26 PETROV Petar 152 BUL 24 Team Honda Red Moto
27 BUTRON Jose 17 SPA 18 JD Gunnex KTM Racing Team
28 LUSBO Andero 621 EST 15 Wildcard Rider
29 BERNARDINI Samuele 321 ITA 15 Ghidinelli Racing Team
30 GUILLOD Valentin 92 SWI 14 Standing Construct KTM

Photos: Honda Racing Corporation

Husqvarna Motorcycles are pleased to announce the exclusive availability of the new AKRAPOVIČ LINE-UP – a range of ‘slip-on’ silencers for all 2020 enduro models, together with complete exhaust systems for all 4-stroke machines.

Designed and built to increase performance and optimise throttle response for a smoother power delivery, the Akrapovič range for Husqvarna Motorcycles’ enduro machines is manufactured from high-grade titanium and stainless-steel, giving a high-quality build and finish. All products are lightweight and fully comply with current FIM and AMA sound regulations.

The global manufacturer of exhaust systems, Akrapovič mirror Husqvarna Motorcycles’ commitment to premium components. Increasing the performance of all Husqvarna Motorcycles enduro machines while markedly reducing weight, through innovative designs and using high-grade materials the new AKRAPOVIČ LINE-UP will give improvements in overall power and torque, whilst delivering an enhanced desirability to the motorcycle.

AKRAPOVIČ SLIP-ON LINE
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AKRAPOVIČ RACING LINE
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Photos: Husqvarna Motorcycles Media

Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) celebrates an across-divisions high this year, with female riders leading the way in three disciplines worldwide – motocross, road racing, and cross-country.

“In what is traditionally a male-dominated sport, New Zealand women are punching above their weight on the world stage,” MNZ General Manager Virginia Henderson says. “This year it is particularly special to see Dunedin’s Courtney Duncan leading the Women’s Motocross World Championships (WMX); Christchurch-based Avalon Biddle competing as the sole female in five rounds of the Motul Pirelli Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) in the Supersport class; and Rachael Archer, of Cambridge, riding for the AmPro Yamaha factory race team as their pro women’s rider in the Grand National Cross Country Championships (GNCC) in the United States.”

“New Zealand has had its fair share of world-class international male riders in the past, namely Josh Coppins, Shayne King, and Ben Townley. They dreamt big and demonstrated to the following generation that is possible for this country to deliver world champions. Now we have three women who have taken over that mantle and are well on their way to achieving international recognition,” Henderson adds.

Duncan (23) has the series leader’s red plate after two rounds of the five-round WMX and is riding a KX250 for the British Bike It DRT Kawasaki team for the first time. After injury and misfortune marred her path to victory over the past three years, she is determined to hunt down the world title on her fourth attempt. Dominant double wins at the second WMX round in May indicated that Duncan is on track to become the first Kiwi woman to bring the trophy back to New Zealand since Katherine Prumm did so, over two consecutive years, in 2006 and 2007.

“It’s definitely good for the sport to have Kiwi girls doing well around the world. Hopefully it inspires the next generation coming up through the ranks, if they see that it’s possible,” Duncan says.

Pictured at the 2019 Fieldays are (from left) 2019 New Zealand Supersport 600cc Champion Avalon Biddle, Motorcycling New Zealand General Manager Virginia Henderson and Women’s Motocross World Championship leader Courtney Duncan.

While she honed her motocross skills racing and beating the boys on dirt tracks around the country, Biddle (26) grew up doing the same thing – but on the road racing circuits. Earlier this year, riding a 130-horsepower, 165kg motorbike at speeds of up to 260kmh, she became the 2019 New Zealand Supersport 600cc Champion – the first woman to ever achieve this title.

Biddle has now set her sights on the Australian equivalent, riding for Cube Racing, which is part-owned by three-time World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss. One round in and racing again across The Ditch this weekend, Biddle is contesting the competitive 600 class. In general, her male counterparts are “really supportive, although that might change when they get sick of me beating them,” she says, with a smile.

“It’s so cool that we are doing so well for a small country. Courtney and I grew up as just ‘one of the boys’ racing in New Zealand. It’s pretty special to now be representing our countries on a world level,” Biddle adds.

Archer is only 17 years old but is already making a name for herself eight rounds into the 13-round GNCC series, where she is currently placed fourth by only 6 points. One of about 15 females racing amongst fields of up to 600 riders in this demanding sport – where her average heart rate has been over 175bpm for each two-hour race – means she has to be well prepared. 

“Competing in the GNCC takes a lot of training and conditioning, as well as good nutrition to be able to maintain a consistent grind!” Archer says.

She won the 2018 New Zealand Cross Country championship under-200cc two stroke title – becoming the first woman to win a dual-gender class – and is now proud to fly the New Zealand flag internationally.

“It’s definitely awesome being a Kiwi girl and racing overseas. Considering how small our population is, it is fair to say we breed some good dirt bike riders! With Courtney and Avalon in the other disciplines, it’s awe-inspiring to see we are smashing the world stage in a mostly male-dominated sport,” Archer adds.

Cambridge rider Rachael Archer is currently fourth in the United States’-based GNCC series, which features a mixture of tight, muddy, fast-flowing and technical trails.

Photos: Ken Hill, Smugmug Photography / Geoff Ridder

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