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Joan Barreda at the 2018 Merzouga Rally

First ’18 breakthrough for Barreda with Merzouga Rally success

Apr 222018

The Merzouga Rally in Morocco was a diverse and difficult event and pushed the conditioning and capabilities of eventual winner Joan Barreda to the limit as the Monster Energy Honda ace returned from a broken wrist and knee injury in the best possible way. The chase was also a powerful renewal of spoils for the HRC crew as Dakar podiumee Kevin Benavides classified as runner-up and Ricky Brabec also made the final top five.

The Spaniard reached the end of the five-day chase that involved a tough marathon stint (the riders had to sleep in a special camp setting in the desert and were the only ones allowed to work on their bikes isolated in Parc Ferme) prominent and typical desert terrain with dunes, rocky ground and sparse landscapes for guidance and also navigational challenges. There was even a ‘motocross’ style line start on the final stage where over 100 motorcycles tore-away into the sand and dust.

1000 kilometres lay in store through the five days and Barreda showed his recent recuperation and training work had served nicely with a searing performance to earn victory from the off. “The first stage was a complicated one with a lot of navigation and some traps which were difficult to get out of,” he said. “We managed to get a good result on this first day, but there is still a long way to go and we must keep working hard, stay focused on the navigation and at the same time, keep the pace on track.”

“I am very happy to be back winning races again, especially because we can now forget about a year of injuries,” he smiled. “There is still work to do to get back to 100% physically and be able to ride my way, without pain. That’s the way I like to do it: return to the competition like that, have a great race and finish with a win. This will serve as great motivation to keep pushing and reach the highest level by the end of the year.”


Barreda will have time to refine his shape and racebike as the first light of the 2019 Dakar starts to creep over the horizon. Monster Energy Honda will attempt the third round of the FIM World Championship in Chile in August and then the drive to South America at the dawn of the new year begins to accelerate.