The Monster Energy Honda Team is the official representative of a prestigious manufacturer in the major Off-Road rallies with a top-level line-up. Team manager Raul Castells on his way back from the Merzouga Rally in which his riders, Joan Barreda and Kevin Benavides, scored a double, was more than ready to play the game of three (or four) questions.
Two of your riders dominated the Merzouga Rally sharing wins in four of the five legs and the prologue. Is this an easy situation for a team manager to deal with?
“For me it’s the best possible situation. I’d willingly sign for it to happen at each rally! In the end it’s a competition and the rider who wins is the one who makes the fewest mistakes. This type of event throws up a raft of unexpected critical situations and with such distances to cover it’s difficult to avoid all the traps.”
Do you communicate with your riders in different ways depending on their experience and personality?
“Absolutely. And you also have to adapt to their nationality and culture. We have a 23 year-old rider from Chile, José Ignacio Cornejo. Paulo Gonçalvez is Portuguese and he’s 38 so you can’t manage them in the same way. On the other hand, they both have the same resources and opportunities.”
What are the main qualities a rider must have to be successful in this sport?
“Determination and love of his sport. Sometimes we see riders arriving in the sport because they can no longer shine in other branches - a kind of final challenge before they hang up their helmet. Those who really want to achieve success in off-road rallies and who love it are often the guys who top the result sheets.
And for a team manager…
“Dedication and the overall quality of preparation. A team like ours has a large number of people and a lot of things can happen during events. When you’re well prepared you can react more easily when the unexpected occurs. You can have a good strategy, but a last-minute change can wreck it. It’s better to have a plan A, a plan B and a plan C. That’s how it is!”
Team HRC is technically supported by Motul in the Dakar Rally, the FIM Cross-Country Rally World championship and selected international off-road events.