KTM’s Cyril Despres won the 2012 Rally of Morocco by over six minutes ahead of Joan Barreda in the final tally.
Team HRC’s Helder Rodrigues posted the top time in the sixth and final stage of the Rally of Morocco, beating out KTM’s Joan Pedrero by just 19 seconds. Pedrero’s teammate, Cyril Despres, was third-fastest through the stage and his performance was enough keep him comfortably atop the overall classification, making him the 2012 Rally of Morocco title winner.
“I knew I had to go out and make a good ride,” said Despres. “You have to concentrate 100% because you know you can lose the race. Now it’s great to leave Morocco with the win and to have such a good feeling, also about the bike (KTM 450 Rally) and the team.”
Rodrigues’ teammate Sam Sunderland finished Stage 6 in fourth place, followed by Husqvarna duo Paulo Goncalves and Joan Barreda in fifth and sixth respectively. Barreda earned second overall behind Despres, trailing the KTM rider by six minutes in cumulative time.
“All of us have done an excellent job and I’m really pleased with the second place,” said Barreda. “We’ve got a really strong bike and a team that’s well prepared for the Dakar. Our mission to come out here and test the team and bike ahead of the Dakar has been achieved. This is a very intense and dangerous race with such a lot of navigation. Besides, all the top riders in the world have turned out for this rally, which is why the result is all the more significant.”
2012 Rally of Morocco final podium with Cyril Despres (center) in first, Joan Barreda (right) in second and Chaleco Lopez (left) in third.
KTM rider Chaleco Lopez took third overall, over half-an-hour off the lead time of Despres while Yamaha rider Frans Verhoeven finished fourth. Goncalves rounded out the top-five in the final tally, and while he was pleased with the advances he and his team made with the bike over the six days, he was disappointed by a rear wheel issue in Stage 4 which cost him a final podium position.
“This Morocco rally has been a really important trail for me before the Dakar,” said Goncalves. “The team has worked hard on the new bike and I’m really glad at the result. It was a shame about the problem with the rear wheel in the fourth stage, otherwise I would have made the podium too alongside Joan, but I’m pleased all the same.”
Rodrigues’s performance over the six days was notable as well, because if not for a fuel issue in Stage 4 which gave him a DNF, he would have been well within reach of the overall win in Honda’s first rally competition with the new CRF450 Rally bike.
“The balance of the whole rally is positive,” said Rodrigues. “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 mustn’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.”
Next up for riders is the legendary Dakar Rally in January 2013 in Lima, Peru. If Team HRC can avoid technical issues, they will certainly pressure the KTM and Husqvarna riders for top spots during the event, which, if the Rally of Morocco is any indication, will be an intensely competitive and dramatic event.
Joan Barreda took sixth in Stage 6 of the 2012 Rally of Morocco and took second overall behind Despres.
Rally of Morcco Stage 6 Results 2012:
1. Helder Rodrigues (Honda) 1:50.50
2. Joan Pedrero (KTM) +0.19
3. Cyril Despres (KTM) +0.27
4. Sam Sunderland (Honda) +1.12
5. Paulo Goncalves (Husqvarna) +1.20
6. Joan Barreda (Husqvarna) +2.13
Rally of Morocco Overall Results 2012:
1. Cyril Despres (KTM) 17:58.36
2. Joan Barreda (Husqvarna) +6.52
3. Chaleco Lopez (KTM) +34.28
4. Frans Verhoeven (Yamaha) +40.42
5. Paulo Goncalves (Husqvarna) +43.52