Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’ s Toby Price has finished third-fastest on the opening stage of the 2022 Rallye du Maroc. The Australian made the best use of his start position, earned through his runner-up result in the short prologue stage, to make up time on the rest of the field. Kevin Benavides, who had the difficult task of opening the stage, finished 10th fastest.

The start positions for stage one of the 2022 Rallye du Maroc were decided from the results of Saturday’s short prologue. Riders then faced a day of riding that totaled an exhausting 557 kilometers, with stage results decided by a 316-kilometer timed special. The route took the competitors from the host city of Agadir south to Tan-Tan, close to the coast, and consisted of a mixture of terrain including rocky tracks and deeper sandy sections, before a run across the beach towards the finish line.

Runner-up on the event’s prologue, Toby Price was the 11th RallyGP-class rider to enter today’s stage. Immediately making ground on the riders ahead, Price reached the first checkpoint inside the top five on time. Maintaining a solid pace over the demanding terrain and staying focused on his navigation, the two-time Dakar Rally winner was able to make up even more time in the closing kilometers to ultimately complete the timed special as third fastest.

Toby Price: “It’s good to get day one out of the way. The special was quite a challenge with a lot of tough navigation and a lot of dangers on the road book. It was difficult to take your eyes off the track ahead of you to check the road book, so you were always juggling out-and-out speed with focusing on your navigation. I’m happy with the day, I have a couple of riders to chase down tomorrow, so all-in-all a good start to the event.”

A 12th place finish on the prologue resulted in Kevin Benavides being the second rider across all classes to enter today’s special. Pushing right from the start, the Argentinian star soon found himself out front and navigating his way through the mixed terrain. Putting in an excellent ride on his KTM 450 RALLY, without making too many costly errors, Benavides was able to stay out front for much of the stage. In crossing the line in 10th place overall, just over 11 minutes down on the stage winner, Kevin will enjoy an advantageous start position for tomorrow’s stage two, where he will aim to make up the maximum time on his rivals.

Kevin Benavides: “Not the best result on paper for me today, but I’m happy with how I rode and navigated the stage. After about five kilometers into the special I had already made my way to the front, but was able to push all day. Ricky (Brabec) took the lead for around 15 kilometers, but other than that I led the whole way through the special. The navigation was really tricky, but I think I did a good job and lost the minimum of time to the guys behind. I have a good start position for tomorrow’s long stage two, so hopefully I can make up some good time.”

The 2022 Rallye du Maroc continues with stage two tomorrow, a 435-kilometer test of endurance that includes a 315-kilometer timed special. Riders leave the bivouac at Tan-Tan and head further south to Laayoune.

Provisional Results – 2022 Rallye du Maroc, Stage 1

1. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 3:44:56
2. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna,  3:46:05 +1:09
3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:47:27 +2:31
4. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 3:48:16 +3:20
5. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 3:49:29 +4:33
Other KTM
10. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 3:56:28 +11:32

Provisional Standings – 2022 Rallye du Maroc (after 1 of 5 stages)

1. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 4:46:24
2. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 4:48:29 +2:05
3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 4:49:35 +3:11
4. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 4:50:48 +4:24
5. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 4:55:05 +8:41
Other KTM
10. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 5:01:48 +15:24