Helder Rodrigues won the final stage of the Morocco Rally aboard his Honda, but Cyril Despres used the points from his third-place finish to take the overall win.
Despres, of course, was aboard a KTM; fellow Team Orange rider Marc Coma didn’t complete the race, after crashing out on the third day, so they didn’t pull their usual 1-2 dominance, as seen every year at Dakar. Instead, Husqvarna’s Joan Barreda took second place overall, about seven minutes behind Despres.
Chaleco Lopez (aboard a KTM) finished third overall in the final standings. Yamaha’s Frans Verhoeven and Husqvarna’s Paolo Goncalves rounded out the top five overall finishers.
Husqvarna’s efforts to unseat KTM from their position atop the rally raid racing heap are heating up; they’re getting closer to the overall win,although Coma’s crash undoubtedly helped their efforts.
Honda’s new rally bike also held its own; Helder Rodrigues ended up winning a couple stages, but a technical problem in Special Stage Four meant he was bumped down to 41st place. Sam Sunderland piloted a Honda to a 10th place finish, and Baja 1000 all-star Johnny Campbell finished 18th overall on a Honda.
The six-day Morocco Rally (properly known as the Rallye OiLibya du Maroc) is a tough race on its own, but it’s also sort of a testing ground and precursor to the two-week Dakar rally, held in South America in January.